Delivering Sports Participation

April 3, 2012

The DeliveryDemon isn’t hugely fascinated by the 2012 Olympics. She didn’t bother with the ticket allocation fiasco. She hopes she won’t be in London, or near one of the few non-London venues during the event. She has no intention of going anywhere to peer through crowds at anyone trotting along with a badly designed bit of metalwork, which is the nearest many Brits will get to the Olympics. She certainly won’t be watching the Olympics on television, as she still hasn’t found a good reason to go out and buy one.

According to BBC talking heads, this means that the DeliveryDemon is not interested in sport. No matter that she walks for miles in the mountains and across country – that doesn’t count. Nor does bodyflying, an activity which tests muscles most people never get round to using. As soon as she finishes rehab from last year’s skydiving accident, she aims to be back flowriding and doing the occasional bit of running. But she’s not interested in sport. The DeliveryDemon was delighted when recovery reached a point that allowed her back in the gym and the pool – but that’s not sport. She’s looking forward to being able to take winter holidays with ice climbing and snowshoeing and cross country skiing and dog sledging – but according to those in the know, she’s not a sporty person. Obviously not, since she isn’t inclined to sit on the couch, munching and drinking, while watching others do something which may be active – or which may be as inactive as darts or snooker or angling or even poker, all of which are skilled, none of which contribute much to the body’s need for physical activity.

There’s a lot of justification of Olympic costs on the grounds that the fact of the Olympics will increase sports participation. It’s a pity that those who made the decisions to spend shed loads of public money didn’t do some realistic thinking:

  • What does participation actually mean?
  • How can you demonstrate that it’s happening?

Since the powers that spend our taxes clearly haven’t done this thinking, please allow the DeliveryDemon to suggest a few actions and measures.

Work is spread throughout the country so that people don’t have to spend so much time commuting that there’s no weekday time for anything else and no weekend time because weekends are used up with recovering from the week’s commute and doing all the chores there wasn’t time for during the week.

School offer a range of activities within the timetable with sufficient variety so that all children can particpate without feeling useless or stupid, and sufficient competition to give the competitive a way of measuring their success.

Sports funding includes reasonable support for public facilities which provide ready access for the public at times when people want to use them.

Bylaws and bureaucrats do not use health and safety as an excuse to prevent popular and emerging sports like inline skating and skateboarding and freerunning in public places.

Planning decisions require provision of public open spaces including green space, and sports facilties, with properly thought out arrangements for their long term upkeep.

That’s just for starters. The Olympics will long be remembered for the white elephant developments it leaves behind, but any effect it has on sports participation will be as transient as the annual blip  in tennis court use around the time of Wimbledon – but without Wimbledon’s annual influence. If the powers that be seriously want to influence public health for the better, they need to think more pragmatically than low usage monolithic development and nanny state pronouncements.

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The internet is evil……

February 19, 2009

Well, that’s what you would think from a quick search in the popular press and even in some serious sources. The internet is forcing us to do all sort of harmful things apparently. We have no free choice, we are at the mercy of the evil empire known as ‘the Internet’. What are the myths and what are the facts? For example.

 

Myth: Social networking sites damage people’s health by keeping people apart.

http://tinyurl.com/healthharm

 

Facts: There are lots of people who increase the level of contact with friends by having conversations and sharing information online as well as face to face. There are lots of people who maintain online contact with geographically distant friends and relatives, to a much greater extent than they would if they relied on letters and phone calls. The same can be said of work colleagues. There’s no health harm in this. There are also some people who find face to face contact difficult. Without the internet they would avoid it. With the internet it’s possible to hide behind an invented persona, or avoid contact through using online shopping and administration sites. That’s not the fault of a piece of technology. It’s about the way we allow the social structure to evolve. Technology may intensify the effect but it’s not the cause.

 

Go back a little while and you can see similar pieces written about gaming and before that about television. They were blamed for sucking people in to unreal worlds. As with social networking, they can provide situations which allowed a blurring of the distinction between real and fantasy worlds. So do books and stories. That’s a reflection of the richness of the human imagination. Some people lack the ability to keep a foot in the real world and, for good or for bad, some of the content on the internet provides an enticing alternative existence.  The problem sits partly with the weakness of the individual and partly with the willingness of others to exploit such weakness. The technology is merely a conduit. And the people who blame technology have lost touch with the facts in exactly the same way.