Yes Minister: is politics creating a narrow-mind towards our definition of sport?
Posted by Cags R on 13 January 2012 at 10:03 AM
In the growing light of the Olympic torch the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has released its strategy for increasing sporting participation in the nation beyond the Olympics. The Habit for Life campaign aims to focus on the decline of sporting activity specifically in teenagers and young adults. To remedy the poor retention numbers in sport the British government intends to build stronger relationships between schools and clubs in order to establish ties for young people in the sporting world outside of their academic environment. In a time of economic struggle, it is - of course - excellent that such a scheme is in place but are the DCMS targeting the right areas of sport in order to gain maximum involvement?
The report highlights how National Governing Bodies will be financed to improve links between schools and clubs in the same region; examples of NGBs given in the report were ‘football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league and tennis’. Considering the target age group is 14-25 year olds it is understandable why the DCMS has chosen sports which are already well-represented in schools. However, where does it leave the student who has already established that they do not connect with these sports? Wouldn't it make more sense to increase the variety of sports offered in schools – which would be easily established by using the same methods the DCMS has already put in place with mainstream NGBs?
Any student at the age of 14 will have already developed their relationship with sport – whether it is positive or negative – and by changing the sports offered in schools it could be a chance to refresh the relationship for those who don’t excel at the predominant sports taught in school. Students who do not enjoy team ball sports would be better off being introduced to new activities rather than continuing in activities they dislike. This could also tackle the issue of the huge drop in sporting participation by girls; approaching local yoga/pilates/kick boxing/cycling clubs and having the coaches come into school to lead classes would expose students to exercises which are currently off the curriculum. It would also take the issue of money out of the equation; a taster yoga class may not seem expensive but for many students paying for it will be a major deterrent – especially now there is no EMA.
The truth is that when those choosing the sporting programme for young people think of the term ‘sport’ what they envisage are team sports. Making sport a Habit for Life would be an easier goal if individual sports were featured in the curriculum so that when the partakers wish to continue after school they don’t necessarily need 30 classmates to make up the teams!
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