Olympics legacy? Compulsory sport be damned


Here we go, roll the bandwagon.  The lardy Boris says:

I would like frankly to see the regime I used to enjoy, a compulsory two hours of sport every day – that’s made me who I am.

You’ve said it mate.

Anathaema, anathema.  Beware the public school ethos.  Encourage, provide decent facilities yes – maybe a bare “compulsory” minimum but no more.  I was instinctively no good at games and no one encouraged me to find a niche, poor thing. I was happy to  cheer the guys on from the touchline and even  to organise support.  But compulsory games reek of  military drill and mediocrity, nothing to do with encouraging talent or even enjoyment.

Both my kids were good, played for their county to age 16 and went on jolly tours to the US and Australia. A million years ago my dad in a family without a spare 2d among them relied on church clubs for hockey, badminton, table tennis and Sunday school excursions  to learn to swim. And he ran at the Scouts jamboree  at the Imperial Exhibition of 1924 at the  even older Wembley  What ever happened to the voluntary sector?

As an alternative I did piano and violin, sang in a choir, debated,  did drama and the rest is history.  And a little light cross country running and coarse tennis,  great practice for playing swingball with my kids later in life. Ok,  so it wasn’t so prestigious as the muddied oafs and flannelled fools of Kipling; that in itself was character building.  I was let off the hook by a Classics master who said of sporting talent, “there’s no merit in it dear boy.” He spoke with the authority of having played rugby for Ireland.

Kids should be encouraged in the arts and music too..

And maybe  learn a mean hand of poker.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London