Rumour abounds that certain Olympic sports are going to get their funding cut.
Every match lost. Will it be handball? Low medal tally. Will it be swimming? No one made a final. What about the sprinters? Successful rowers are interviewed and say if a sport doesn’t achieve then it can’t expect to keep the funding.
I would like to put in a mini pitch to keep the support for the Olympic team sports that we performed ‘poorly’ in – handball, water polo, volleyball and basketball. They are all incredibly complex sports that you cannot learn in four years. For a team to become Olympic champions in one of these sports you will need a couple of squad members with well over a decade of top international experience and the rest of the team need to have learnt the sport from childhood. You don’t get that with 4 years funding, we’re going to have to invest in these sports from the top to the bottom for decades. We need to recognise now that it will take a lot of money because it would be an absolute waste of money to refund only for another four years and then cut it.
On the other hand you could put a bit of money into scientific somatotype spotting and pluck out some physiological freaks who could make potential world class rowers. Stick them in a boat for 4 years and get them to practice pulling and you’ve got yourself an Olympic champion. But let’s not pull the funding on the team sports just because they didn’t ‘succeed’ this time round. They really had an impossible task just to win one match.
Rowing, sitting on horses and sailing are very elitist sports. The team sports are so much more accessible and with a fraction of the money squirted in at grassroots level you could get yourself a hoard of wonderful community and school based handball and volleyball clubs. Obviously, even if we succeed it wouldn’t have much effect on the medal table. A generation of investment in water polo might give us one bronze medal every 12 years, if we’re lucky, compared to multiple ways to swim, ride, run, row and sail to Olympic glory. But, believe it or not, it’s not all about the medal table.
What sports would you cut, or re-fund? And why?