Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Do we really need sports funding?

There is currently one of those political rows going on about funding and who gets it. 
I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean. It is one of those "it's not fair" sort of rows where the other side of politics claims and complains that the government of the day has been "pork barrelling" their own electorates. Of course the other side of politics has either never done anything like this or, if they are caught, then they have dealt with the issue immediately - and sacked the relevant Minister.
Both sides of politics do all of this - and more. It is how the game is played. You cheat. If you can get away with it that is even better.
What bothers me though is something rather different. It isn't a matter of who is getting the sports funding but whether they should be getting any at all. If they are getting funding then it is a matter of how much they should be getting.
Sport is expensive. Anyone who plays sport knows that there is a cost involved. It is said that people should play sport for any number of reasons to do with well being so we, the taxpayers, help to provide the facilities. Sounds fair doesn't it? We want people to be active, healthy and social don't we? There is plenty of research (of greatly varying quality) and anecdotal evidence to suggest that "sport is good for you".  I don't doubt that it is - if you actively play it and don't get involved in a "win at all costs" sort of way.
But how much of that activity should be funded?
I have said elsewhere in this blog that more people use libraries each week than attend a sports game of some sort or another as spectators. Even fewer people actually play sport.
Despite that libraries get less funding. Very few people could name a "famous" librarian. Librarians do not get well paid - and the job involves a lot more than putting books back on the shelves! Modern libraries also provide many services apart from books. Our local library runs different Storytelling groups for babies and preschoolers, games groups (Scrabble, Chess, Catan and more), French classes at three different levels, craft classes for kids and teenagers - just to name some of what goes on. I run the knitting and crochet group - which is well attended and about a great deal more than "little old ladies knitting garter stitch squares".  
And other things don't get funding at all. We don't put taxpayer funds into other hobbies. There are hobbies which might well be as beneficial as active involvement in sport and certainly more beneficial than simply watching it - especially just watching it on television at home. Yes, I know that can be "fun" but....
Why aren't we putting more funds into things like "walking groups" or getting "dog walking groups" together? Why don't we fund more "men's sheds" and the equipment to put in there? Why don't we fund buildings which are especially designed to house art and craft groups, amateur music groups, gardening clubs and more? All these things are important too. They can give people a life-long interest and help them build strong friendships. 
All that is even more important now. The nature of family relationships has changed. Social media has reduced the amount of face-to-face contact we have with each other. 
Spending so much money on sport to the exclusion of other things - and that is what is happening - is not helping to solve the issues of mental illness and obesity. It may actually be encouraging those things and contributing to the very serious problem of isolation in old age.
Sport is important. It is a very important part of the lives of some people. It isn't the only thing that is important though and it is time to recognise that.

1 comment:

Jodiebodie said...

Well put, Cat.

I don't believe we shouldn't be giving grants for sports but do agree with you that there should be funds for other interests too; for all the same benefits as sports involvement. Smaller amounts of money invested in people's wellbeing at the community level can save much larger amounts of money 'picking up the pieces' in the health system or justice system etc.

Many levels of government and other organisations offer a variety of grants for such purposes. The trick is being able to find them and know how to write a grant application. If an individual has an idea, I am not sure how they obtain grant funding for setting up something because it is my understanding that grant applicants are expected to be representatives of existing community organisations or groups.

If you want to start a community group, how do you get the funding to set it up when the community group doesn't officially exist yet?