OBESITY AND THE OLYMPICS
THE FEELGOOD FACTOR
REGULAR READERS MAY RECALL THAT A FEW MONTHS AGO, I PUBLISHED A HUB QUESTIONING ,IN THIS MODERN AGE, WHEN SPORTS HAVE THEIR OWN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, THE OLMPIC GAMES WERE RELEVENT, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE HUGE COSTS INCURRED BY THE STAGING COUNTRY.
At this time, 75% through the games of 2012 in London, there is no doubt that a poll taken right now would give a positive result for the Olympics. Let us be perfectly fair in acknowledging that we, the British, have done an excellent job in staging the games from the excellent opening ceremony, to the efficient running of events at all the first class venues produced.
Note, I say a poll conducted NOW would be positive as the British have embraced the games and the participants with an enthusiasm and fervour that has had no equal. This is in stark contrast to events exactly one year ago, when Rioters and Looters presented a very different British face to the world. However, amidst the great and justifiable euphoria, those, like myself who search for the bigger picture, continue to harbour doubts about the benefits of these games on an ongoing basis. Britain currently is bathed in the feelgood factor. People who have not moved for years are buying running shoes and taking to the roads. Others are buying cycles and pedalling away whilst others head for the chlorine of the Municipal swimming pools etc. etc. All good to see, but one wonders how long will the magic last. How many of the ever increasing obese will be moved to change diets and take up moving. I suspect not many, sadly.
This morning, I took my 89 years old father in law to the local Hospital for a check on the cataracts in his one remaining eye. In a full waiting room, based on the new measurement system of waist size doubled must be less than height, I calculated 25% plus were thus categorised as obese. Ages ranged from infants, school children, youth, young adults, middle aged and the elderly and in each category came the same story. 1 IN 4 or thereabouts were above the safety limits. Thus there visits soon may be to other Departments as Obese related illnesses develop, furthering using up, through self inflicted diseases, valuable NHS funding that would be better spent treating those who are ill through no fault of their own.
Still, at the moment, the British are far too consumed with the success of the Country in all aspects of Olympian activity to give a single concern for the future. The Feelgood Factor has gripped the nation which steadfastly now fails to heed the sagas of desolated Stadiums in Greece and the demise of the Australian nation so soon after their success in the games of Sydney in 2000. Back then, the Aussies were insufferable in their arrogance, now they whingingly seek for reasons for their fall from high grace. They need not look far and in so doing point the way for the British, if this nation truly wishes to build on these few weeks of success.
THE HYPOCRASY OF POLITICIANS.
For success in any sport, in any nation, 3 plus 1 things are required and they never, ever, vary.
1. FACILITIES. No facilities, no progress is a key mantra. The nature of facilities will vary of course from the basic to the elite, but facilities there must be for people to use, to train and compete in. British facilities have improved in some areas but not all. For example, in Alanya, Turkey, population 99,000, each ward or district has AT LEAST one floodlight, artificial turf, fully netting enclosed, including roof, facility with accompanying changing rooms, operational sometimes till 2.00 am with people using for ball sports. That in a smallish town in an area not long removed from the third world. Contrast that with any local area in Britain, and the point is made.
2. TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP. Facilities alone are not enough. Technically qualified people are needed to enthuse, motivate, instruct and guide participants if full use and potential is to be realised.
3. COMPETITION. Sport is nothing in reality if it is not competitive. The benefits of competition, properly structured contributes many things both psychological and physiological. Simply, learning to both win and lose in the correct manner is an aspect that sport brings to human life in ways rarely equalled in other activities.
PLUS 1. The Plus One Factor to the above which embraces them all, is of course, FINANCE. Investment in sport from various sources at various levels is vital and especially, investment from National and Local Government are vital constituents in this. Cue Australia and heed the warning. Having been awarded the games for 2000, the Aussie Governments ploughed in the cash to there sports and got just reward at the Games. Subsequently though, as the Flame was extinguished, so the funds dried up. The belief that it was a one off investment that would pay ongoing sporting dividends proved to be a false one as results in subsequent Games faltered and effectively crashed in 2012. Thus, the 10 year old Aussie motivated by the 2000 games, found ever diminishing opportunities as they advanced through the teens to arrive in London under prepared in much the same way the British were in Sydney. 12 years is all it took. During that time Australian politicians saw no heat on sport, so no need to invest. Just watch what they do now as they face public backlash to there inactivity.
British Politicians are no different and across party lines they unashamedly use or abuse sport as to whether they perceive votes are in it for them. Successive Governments have sold off school playing fields, presided over the virtual collapse of standards in school sport, even in the 80"s and 90"s decrying sporting competitions in schools and insisting on "non competitive sports days" Beyond that, the dumbing down of Universities and training of teachers has seen a diminution of the quality of specialist sports teachers in schools, whilst outside, many spuriously qualified personnel operate in under funded activities and in decrepit facilities.
I say this still continues as it does but not to the extent of pre 2005. The gaining of the Olympics for London in 2012, had politicians falling over themselves to find funding. Thankfully we had the Lottery in place, so effectively many of the facilities and most of our Athletes in all sports have effectively been funded by the British people themselves but with preening politicians claiming the credit.
The current Prime Minister exhorts the need for specialist sports teachers in Primary Schools. He needs advice! The need is to establish a properly qualified chain of qualified and experienced people across the board. Even so, watch out to see what he and his coalition Government actually do once the flame is extinguished and the spotlight has moved on. Australia all over again is my bet. A former Prime Minister, in office when playing field sales were escalating has the cheek to call for more sport in schools. THE HYPOCRACY OF POLITICIANS, EVEN THE RETIRED KNOWS NO BOUNDS.
MENSA IN CORPORE IN CORPORE SANO
Sound in body, sound in mind is a manta I have believed in all my understanding life. This for me should be the true legacy we need to see from these games and from the investment made in them. The Olympic Games features the top of the sporting pyramid in many forms of sport. As a pyramid, the top must have3 a base and for me that base is the main weapon in the battle against obesity. Money spent from Government and Municipal sources in the years to come will, in my estimation be returned 10 fold in reduced costs to the NHS from Obese related disease being reduced. Failure to continue investment will see maybe an even greater cost bill through increased obesity. To me that should be our Number 1 Legacy wish from these Olympics. That in no way is to detract for the need to invest in elite levels of participation and one legacy so far of these games has been to blow out of the water the mindless who oppose elitism in any form.
The Olympic Games of London 2012 have clearly brought us short term GAIN,the battle now must be to turn that to long term benefits across and up the sporting pyramid. If it were down to the people we could rest easy but sadly it will be the Politicians who will decide and in them the very best we can be, given past track records, is skeptical. All very sad really when the gains are so very obvious to everyone.