Dopey Dave and school sports

Cameron and a guy who runs about in forests a lot, eats nettles and gets paid a fortune to do it; Edward “Bear” Grylls. If being a prick was an Olympic sport, you’ve got your silver and bronze right there. And gold, I hear you cry? John Terry obviously. And you know he’d wear his full Chelsea kit to collect the medal. Including shinpads.

It is often remarked that the Conservatives are ‘the stupid party’. Now while our readers know that we would never go in for such childish abuse, that David Cameron really is a brainless tosser, isn’t he?

I read his comments about school sport with a growing sense of disbelief and by the end I started to wonder if the man lives on a different planet to me. Let’s a take a look at a few of them, bearing in mind that they come in the context of school playing fields continuing to be sold off and the abandoning of compulsory targets for school sport by his government:

“We need a big cultural change in favour of competitive sports. I think that is what really matters…….The problem has been too many schools not willing to have competitive sport and some teachers not willing to join in and play their part……..I would like to promote competitive sport – we need more competition, more competitiveness, getting rid of the idea of all-must-have prizes and you cannot have competitive sports days. We need a big cultural change in favour of competitive sports.”

It’s every Tory cliché about the world around them rolled into one. Leftie ideology is corrupting our children, what our education system needs is more Darwinian competition, we need to return to a golden age that never in fact existed and Marxist teachers are to blame for everything. It really does read like something that Richard Littlejohn or Kelvin MacKenzie would say. If they were totally pissed. It is stupid, intellectually bankrupt modern-day Conservatism made flesh.

In the first instance Britain getting loads of gold medals is alright I suppose, but it really isn’t some amazing demonstration of our national virility, and isn’t anything like as important as mass participation in sports being encouraged. A few people being the best in the world at their chosen discipline isn’t actually of great import to the rest of us, especially when many of those sports are played by a tiny number of people, and to suggest otherwise is just crude nationalism. I’m dead chuffed that Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah won gold, but that’s cos I like them. There are other British athletes that I am distinctly less enthusiastic about.

The people involved did it for themselves (which is fair enough) and ‘representing their country’ was a secondary consideration, if it was one at all.

Also considering that Britain’s unprecedented Olympic success has come during a period when the doctrine of ‘non-competitiveness’ was supposedly hegemonic inour schools (and the Conservatives were out of power and even they would not be so brazen as to try and claim credit for these medals), I really don’t understand how Cameron can use this as an argument for changing things so completely (he’s talking bollocks and the situation that he argues exists, doesn’t, in fact, but you get my point).

He also totally misses the reason why most of us ‘do’ sport. We do it for pleasure. Health and wellbeing. Because we find it relaxing. Because for a few hours we can forget our humdrum existences and do something that we want to do. Not because we want to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Some of us will not be the best in the world, unfortunately. We might not even be very good. So when ‘competition’ becomes the doctrine that dominates sports participation for the young then what are those who aren’t world-beaters going to do? If we are to go by David Cameron’s comments, they should just give up as they won’t be able to ‘compete’, which is just a euphemistic way of saying ‘winning’. Has the idea of people just doing it for fun never even entered into his thinking? If winning is all that matters, then I can assure you that you will be driving a generation away from sport from life and many of the people who do stick with it will probably become disillusioned very quickly.

This is just the latest part of the government’s (Labour were guilty of it too) apparently systematic strategy of depriving young people the right to education for its own sake. In the classroom the goal is to beat everyone else, absorb the most facts and get the highest grades. On the sports field it is winning. It’s quite chilling social engineering, and for a government that claims to be in favour of individual liberty, brazenly hypocritical.

In athletic terms it’s also self-defeating. Take football for example. The problem that we have in the UK is that it is too competitive at youth level, and the doctrine of win at all costs is skewing the way we play the game and allowing the focus to shift away from the important thing for young players; imagination, creativity, technique and learning to keep and distribute the ball. Other football cultures shun such crude football Darwinism at a young age, promote a more progressive, long-term methodology and it has paid handsome dividends. British footballers are falling further and further behind, as we see at every tournament that we manage to qualify for. That is a direct consequence of the football authorities in the UK adopting the Cameron approach.

I also loved Cameron’s dig at teachers. Let’s blame them for not giving up their free time to encourage the next generation of Chris Hoys and Victoria Pendletons! Firstly, there is no evidence that teachers are any less ‘encouraging’ than they used to be, and secondly some of them might be quite tired at the end of the day and just want to go home. You know, like the rest of us. Typical, conceited hogwash from a politician whose every utterance illustrates how far removed from reality he is. Another straw man argument from a government that can only argue with straw men.

I suppose Cameron’s ramblings on school sports have served one purpose. They have neatly crystallised everything wrong with the ideology of the right. Stupid, illogical, hypocritical, ill-informed, divorced from reality, borne of prejudice and viewing society as some kind of Hobbesian ‘state of nature’. It really scares me that these hapless Tory buffoons are in charge of the education of our kids.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. NJH
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:33:51

    Competition in everything – except jobs. …and sports like eventing and equestrianism (if there is such a word). …and rowing, and rugby at the highest levels. Excellent programme on Radio 4 by Lawrie Taylor about nepotism and croneyism in the BBC, media and most, if not all, professions. It is nothing to do with competition; it is all to do with social networking and nepotism. In a follow up program today, Lawrie Taylor admitted that his dad was the producer but he also said that it was most likely his mother that got him the job at the BBC.
    I bet my local comprehensive would be thrashed out of site in every rowing event at Henley Regatta, even if they were invited to compete. They do not have a large river sweeping by the ends of their enclosed, manicured grounds. They certainly do not have sculls and fours and eights. I do not think that they have a serviceable canoe.
    My boys went to the local comprehensive. One regularly played for the school team, out of core hours, supported by two members of staff, in their own time. So far as I know, this still goes on. So far as it went, they were given a chance to excel at football. When they started to play Rugby, the outstanding player (now on the fringes of the England squad) was immediately offered a scholarship to one of the local Public Schools. Of course he (his family) would have been fools to reject it but in one fell swoop the comprehensive is weakened and the Public School strengthened. Where is the competition in this?
    It has taken me a long time to cotton on (I am more than averagely slow on the uptake) but there is no competition except that artificially put in place to give the impression of competition. The working classes are not to compete on a level playing field. You and me cannot afford to buy our daughters a pony at their three year birthday. This is going to be a handicap to get them a gold at the Olympics. Then ask yourself – do the upper middle and upper classes really want their safe little universe infiltrated by the riff raff from the local council estate.
    It’s shit, you know it’s shit, I know it’s shit.
    Sorry to go on but sometimes Camoron and his crew just rock my boat.


  2. charliecountryboy
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 04:56:15

    I like parts of this post but not the part where medals aren’t important. Boxing can focus kids on rough estates away from crime, etc etc I won’t elaborate, you know all those stories. Role models are important and I think sporting role models are more important than say Ed M for instance. There are no role models in football anymore just spoiled brats. Look at the world cup in comparison to the Olympics. You are spot on about Cameron though. Funny how people like to blame Labour for the Economy but not give any kudos for sporting achievements.


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