With the 2012 Olympics nearly at an end and Team GB’s medal total (at the time of writing) tallying 26 Gold, 16 Silver and 17 Bronze, politicians have not been slow in coming forward with calls for compulsory sport in schools. The effort by Cameron to gain some traction from Britain’s success featured an obligatory ‘U’ turn with him on Wednesday insisting that the two-hour-a-week target of compulsory school sport was a box-ticking exercise and that instead a cultural change was needed to encourage more sport, suggesting teachers should “play their part” by giving up free time to teach competitive sport – and then today, according to the Grauniad, planning to announce that competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary school children in England.
Then we have Tessa Jowell calling for a 10 plan and the reintroduction of PE taught by properly trained teachers in primary schools. On the internet there have appeared tweets pointing out that had all EU member states competed under the blue and yellow flag the EU would have more gold medals than the US and China combined. We even have Die Welt joining in with the comment that Europe is doing pretty well for a continent in decline.
As ever when there is a passing bandwagon, politicians lose no time in jumping aboard, aided and abetted by a compliant media, in order to look important and not missing the opportunity to impose yet more diktats on behavoural patterns. I seem to recall that we were being told, not so long ago, that competitive sports were bad as children may well hurt themselves and that anyone ‘winning’ anything was bad as all should have prizes. Anyone got a sickbag I can borrow?
Of course I have not seen one word, either from politicians or the media, that what amount of physical activity children take should be a matter for their parents to decide. Neither have I seen any mention of the fact that politicians will be asking the people if all the finance that will be required is acceptable to them as they will, no doubt, be called upon to provide the bulk of it.
On reflection it is not surprising that politicians and the Olympics are intertwined – both are treated as sport by their respective participants and followers of both use similar analytical methods, mainly statistics, to augment and clarify their points.