Thursday 9 August 2012

Avez Vous Un Cuppa

Wheels with wheels, as the saying goes.  We are now at the point when France may want to expel the UK from the EU.  Our cyclists have done better than theirs and they don’t like it up them.  Dark allegations have been made about the technology of the wheels used by British riders; alas they seem to have been sourced from France.

During the televising of the cycle racing by the BBC in the Velodrome fleeting glimpses were caught of John Major, Prime Minister between 1992 and 1997.  No reference was made to him as he has become almost the forgotten man of the last three decades. 

But it was on his watch in 1994 that the Manchester Velodrome was constructed and became the home to the National Cycling Centre whose work has been central to the rise of British Cyclists.  Give the man some credit for having done at least one thing right.  What if nothing had been done then?

Also, not mentioned on the BBC coverage is that BSkyB have been sponsors of British cycling since 2008 and the formation of Team Sky in 2009 to become one of the leading teams in world cycling has had its impact on the development of some of our champions.  Difficult one that, but it should be mentioned.

Also difficult are the brutal realities.  There are now calls for much more spending on sport for all and everyone.  That a good many youngsters seem to be shy of the time, effort, expense and the rest involved in relentless sport is understandable as there are now many other things to do.

Inevitably, some potential winners may be lost, but how many are lost in any case because whilst being potentially good at a sport involves such commitment that it may be too much for either them or their families? 

One option is to remove them from their homes and families and drill them hard, as some states do, but I doubt that this is possible in the UK.

But when the head of the National Cycling Centre was interviewed on TV, he was asked by the interviewer if their overall work had to be “ruthless”.  He denied this interpretation saying that it had to be honest, even if some people thought that harsh. 

The upshot of this is that the work of the NCC is highly selective and has to be to deliver the prizes.  In the UK and notably in politics and the media this kind of notion is not welcome and rarely enters the discussions about how best to do some things. 

We are happy to watch the races and cheer the winners but not happy about the idea of concentrating resources on them.  We have become too used to scattering state money and favours around without too much regard to whether it really pays or not.  This involves difficult choices and an honesty of purpose which almost all our politicians prefer to avoid at all costs.

Another intriguing aspect is that cycling coverage was rare in the mainstream media for a very long while.  It was regarded as something the “peasants” did to amuse themselves.  Meanwhile on BBC there were often wall to wall equestrian events which the lower classes were instructed to admire.

It was not until the early 1980’s that the newly established Channel Four began to run regular items on cycling such as the Tour de France.   For most people cycling on TV was restricted to occasional advertisements.  The most famous was the 1971 Tetley Tea Bags commercial lasting thirty seconds, see below:

Watching the advertisement and considering the new attraction of cycling both David Cameron and Boris Johnson have used cycles in their efforts for popular self promotion.  It would save a lot of politicking if they did a best of three 1500 metres race for the Premiership.

The idea could be extended if we really did want to promote almost compulsory sport for everyone, government office would be available only to these meeting high time or performance targets in their chosen sports.  Given that all of them seem to be missing every possible other target it might be more effective.

Although one thing should be clear.  It would be no use whatsoever for Cameron and Clegg to team up for a tandem race.

1 comment:

  1. "how many are lost in any case because whilst being potentially good at a sport involves such commitment that it may be too much for either them or their families?"

    And have we taken it too far anyway? Sport as recreation seems to have no place in the sporting global mega-business.