There’s a thought provoking piece in The Times today about how striking gold at the Olympics maybe far more representative of how much money you spend rather your country’s athletic talent:
It is striking that Britain’s medal success generally comes in sports that are not merely expensive but that are also so unpopular that athletes cannot earn enough from prize-money and endorsements to support themselves. Success in these sports – such as rowing, sailing and track cycling – can essentially be bought by siphoning off money from the public purse and handing it to the athletes who are then able to train like professionals.
Indeed, it is a cause for self-congratulation rather than discomfiture in the sporting community that the improved success of British athletes in recent years has been achieved by outspending many of our rivals. That is not to take anything away from the athletes, who are hard-working and talented. It is merely to say that success in sport – like in the agricultural market – is easier when it receives huge state subsidies.
How does the Government get away with this raid on the public purse? By claiming that Olympic success inspires grassroots participation, which, in turn, has a benign long-term impact on the public finances. It is an argument with everything on its side except evidence. The reality is that elite success has no sustained impact on participation, and, even if it did, the fiscal effects would be ambiguous.
Well that’s one way to spend tax payers money. I expect a massive campaign from the Tax Payers’ Alliance (with full rightwing blogger backing) any day now…
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Sports