has a piece in this morning's paper about the importance of sport. He is trying, quite unsuccessfully in my view, to justify the emphasis placed on sport in our society. He may well be correct in his assertions about the value of sport but what he, and many others, fail to acknowledge is the lack of balance between sport and other activities.
If a poll was taken in Australia I am sure many more people could tell you that there will be Olympic Games this year and where they will be held than could tell you that this is also the National Year of Reading in Australia and who their local ambassadors are. The former event has already had plenty of publicity. The latter has had almost none. It will get very little.
Far more money is spent on sport than is spent on libraries yet more people use libraries. Despite this libraries are not considered to be nearly as newsworthy. Far more money is spent on sport than all the arts combined. There are more “scholarships”, “awards” and “prizes” for sport than there are for the arts and they also tend to have a much higher monetary value. While junior sports people may not be paid anything at all the top names in sport are paid (I will not say earn) quite extraordinary sums of money. “Sponsorship” for sport is worth many millions of dollars more. Sponsorship pays of course. It is good advertising. It is tax deductible. Seeing a logo on a team of football guernseys, the tilt of a hat, the backboards on a racing circuit and so on can also be worth far more than it costs a company.
We are bombarded with sport. Almost the only television programme my father and I bother to watch is taken off the air for the "Dakar to Paris" rally (now run in South America), the Tour de France, the World Cup and - this year - the Olympics or whatever other sporting event is currently taking place. It is by no means the only sport on television. Sometimes it would be impossible to watch television and not watch sport. There will be, quite literally, sport on every available free-to-air channel.
This is not balanced.
Of course sport is important. It has a place in our society. Many people enjoy it. Sport however is as much about cultural expectations as it is about what is actually enjoyed. We are told, at least indirectly, that this is what we should be watching, enjoying and generally taking an interest in. If we do not then there is something actually wrong with us. If that is the case then I have an incurable illness. I have no interest in sport apart from the mildest interest in the psychology of cricket.
I do wonder what would happen if we put an equal amount of money and time into other cultural activities. Would people learn to enjoy those too? Would - dare I even ask - writers be more appreciated?