Wednesday 17 August 2016

Sports Page

Any major sports fest on an international basis, at least in the UK, will bring about the thunder of the hooves of hobby horses being ridden into the ground.  The present Olympic Games in Rio is allowing a choice selection arising from the successes of many of the UK participants.

The Guardian has a piece lauding the medal count as a triumph of central planning, comrades, which we should salute and embrace.  Meanwhile, other press points to the relatively high proportion of people from private schooling and the virtues of accepting elitism as a necessary condition of progress.

Perhaps, but the great age of the old grammar schools were years when the medal count was not as good as we were led to hope for.  While some private schools were organised more fully for sport, the general picture was one of amateurism and something minor in the great game of life.

But that was Britain and if the Olympics at the top end was a battle between the American universities and colleges and the Soviet and Communist East military, so be it.  In those innocent days which lasted until relatively recently, we should take account of the research benefits accruing to the pharmaceutical industries.

My chief complaint is the media wipeout of other news.  Unless you are a dedicated web searcher, for the vast majority relying on main media, all sorts of strange and interesting things could be happening that our leaders can avoid either telling us about, or later that the relevant issues arose during the Olympics.

Beyond this there are strange things.  John Major had been brought out from an attic of history, dustier than most, to be praised for his foresight and work in created a national lottery, gambling for all at a price, that has funded so much of the basic provision for the preparation of contestants.

The effect is that the lottery is entirely voluntary, nobody has to buy a ticket, so we can claim that this is truly a people's success.  That it entails unbridled elitism in that we are only concerned with the winners must appeal to one group of political philosophers or another, but I am unable to work out which.

Perhaps they have gone for a walk.  It was in the 1948 London Olympics where UK men won only a handful of medals, none gold, that Tebbs Lloyd Johnson, picture above, aged 48 took a bronze in the 50 Km walk.  To this day, he is the only Olympic athlete I have ever known.  He was an amateur in the sense that his wife ran the boarding house and he earned income as a handyman.

A far cry from the world of "Chariots Of Fire", which for many is their basic source for past Olympics.  But in some ways the Olympics are and have been a living fiction.  To claim them for central planning and a triumph of Trotsky thought is to claim that this is the way to run and economy and society.  Yet the nature of the individuality of those involved is diametrically opposed to this.

To argue that elites are good if we give them most of the money is wrong headed.  The contestants are mostly able to perform as a consequence of particular physical and genetic advantages.  I doubt that eugenics is the best answer to all our political and social problems, history suggests otherwise.

As for schools, if you have around the country a few schools that have careful selection requirements arising from sports etc. being a central feature of their specialisation, then inevitably, these private schools will see a higher proportion of their people gaining medals.

It might be better if we do want to watch and enjoy the spectacle, the excitement and the rest of people contesting to win the great prize in their field, we should do just that.

We are paying for it, so just ignore all the nonsense.

1 comment:

  1. I bought a lottery ticket in the early days, but won nothing. What a swizz. I never bought another.