MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Funding for sport is just for winners

First published in Sport

IT’S amazing how and when the politicians choose to play the Olympic legacy card.

One suspects it’ll feature prominently for the Conservatives in the run-in to the next General Election, but less so, far less so, when it comes to certain sports tomorrow or the next day.

It’s less a case of a legacy for all than a legacy for some… as long as they were winning last summer. All athletes are equal; some athletes are just more equal than others. Boxers, they’re now as equal as say cyclists or rowers. Now, rowing participation at grass roots has seen one of the lowest rises in the wake of London 2012, but they are winners. We are good at rowing, have been for six Olympics, so that’s a funding no-brainer. After their success in London, boxing is the same.

But basketball, nope, that’s not a sport we want to worry about. Towards London 2012 they were funded, but now they will see that cut by £8.5 million to, erm, nothing. Not a single penny.

It’s prompted a letter to the Prime Minister from Luol Deng, a British basketball player who also happens to be an All-Star in the NBA.

It’s likely to do little good, even though basketball is a huge participation sport with a clear onus on accessibility to the less fortunate, as it’s relatively cheap to get involved with.

It simply can’t be right to completely cut adrift certain sports, to tell the stars of tomorrow they essentially shouldn’t bother unless it’s to win yet another cycling or rowing medal.

Legacy?

Pull the other one.

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