LEGACY, LEGACY, ALL IS LEGACY.
THE NEW BUZZ WORD
The Olympic Games have come and gone and Britain basks in the achievements of Team GB and the praise heaped on it from all quarters. People pop up on the TV screens to tell us all how proud they are to be British. At the same time protests take place at rising train fares and the usual suspects appear to complain about everything from the costs of it all to transport disruption over the games period.It would not be the UK if the ends of the continuum were not so far apart in the perception of the British psyche. Indeed if there were Gold Medals for over reaction at both ends of any scale, the British would win hands down.
However, as a nation, if for no other reason , the Olympics have taught many Britons a word they had little or no comprehension of prior to the games. To paraphrase King Lear, "Legacy, Legacy, all is Legacy." To think for one moment the underclasses, now known as "The Jeremy Kylers" after an obnoxious day time TV show featuring the dregs of Briton and their self induced problems, were aware of even the word itself stretches belief too far. HOWEVER , AGAIN, WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY !
The Oxford Dictionary, defines Legacy thus : "Gift by will, anything handed down by predecessor".The underclass know the first bit because that is what they look for when one of their clan shuffles off to find the great dealer in the sky. Mind you most of the time, they have purloined anything of value before any legal nicety is observed, or are left complaining that the departed left nothing worth having, so selfish were they.
Now, the second part of the definition thunders everywhere from TV, Radio, Newspapers, right down to the woman on the Supermarket check in. We have our medal winners ,now what is in it for us and our siblings! The argument goes along the lines that we have paid for it via our selfless contributions to the Lottery and Taxes, so let us see something for us all now. This argument, not without merit, has Politicians in a frenzy as they look ahead to further elections.
It is impossible to escape from politician after politician basking in the current glow, then adopting a serious face to tell us that they are determined to ensure we all receive a great legacy from the games. Cross party alliances swim to the fore to pledge continued financial support for the future. After all that is the sole thing politicians have really to do with sport, provide the funds and make those using them accountable. The generous Prime Minister, extends funding to cover the games in RIO.
BULLY FOR HIM. AT THE SAME TIME, THE HEADS OF QUANGOS RESPONSIBLE FOR SPLASHING THE CASH AROUND, ANNOUNCE THAT SPORTS WHO DID NOT COVER THEMSELVES WITH MEDALS FACE REDUCTIONS IN FUNDING. NOW HALF BAKED CAN YOU GET.
The thrust of the above is to tell sports that made significant progress from a standing start, for example Handball, that they will have their funding slashed. Now considering that very little handball was played in UK prior to us being awarded the Games and thus deciding to enter everything in 2012, it seems to me that there is guilt here of muddled thinking. Either we should not have entered handball at all or we need to build on the base established. Why that does not seem clear to the Quango chiefs is unknown to me.
Yet, the overriding messages from the top indicate that we are to build on our success and have money for the elite to compete well in Rio. If that is so, I applaud it, but do not get it confused with what the true legacy should be in addition to that. The pyramid has also to be built from the bottom up as well as from the top down to have lasting value.
Of course, everywhere one goes at the present one sees Olympic Legacy in action as people take to the streets, the countryside and hills to run and cycle, to the pools to swim and to the stables to ride, at least for the moment. Good stuff, but what will happen through the dark winter months when the rain, sleet and snow dampen enthusiasm ? There will come the test of whether our real Legacy is to stand up and be counted. It will rely, as did the organisation of the Games themselves on our schools and sports clubs run by volunteers to ensure that we build from the bottom up.
Politicians compete in their promises to see sports in schools re established from the current mess they have helped create over the past 6 decades. 2 hours sport a week for every Primary School child is trumpeted by some, only to find another claiming 5 hours weekly. Legacy Watch will find out what reality brings.80% of Primary Schools do not engage in competitive sports against other schools. The current Education Minister has already sold of 22 School Playing Fields. These are facts ,not promises. Legacy Watch will check on future activities long after the current spotlight has moved on.
True legacy will depend on many factors if it is to become a beacon for and in the future and it will rely on the efforts of those who never reach great heights themselves. I n the GB success, two stories stood out to me on this point. The first told of "a little fat girl" in a Primary School. The second of a slightly built boy who amazed his PE teacher when he gave the class their first Cross Country run. The little girl was Jessica Ennis and the boy Mo Farah.The girl is now Heptathlon Champion, the boy, 5,000 and 10,000 metres Champion. Both inspired by the unsung in their schools and local clubs. Legacy Watch will see if the efforts of the unsung are rewarded in the way they would wish them to be. Not by personal financial gain or publicity but by being afforded improvements in the 3 basic needs sports development requires, namely, Facilities, Technical Expertise and Leadership and Competition. The true legacy of 2012 will be seen in how the challenge of improving those 3 core elements is achieved. Legacy Watch will be keeping an ongoing eye to see if promises are kept. Even beyond that at the base, if the promise of increased sport in Primary Schools is kept we should see a significant decrease in the numbers of Obese children under 10 years of age. Now that would be a real legacy handed down.