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Politics and sport: Going for gold?

8 August, 2012

Author: Warren Town

Gold medal

As we bask in the glory that is the Olympics, we discover that, in the past two years, the Coalition has approved the sale of more than 20 school sports fields in England.

With the Prime Minister expressing his joy and pride at Olympic success, it is somewhat perverse, but not unexpected, to hear that the means to repeat Team GB’s success in four years time in Brazil may be compromised by Government policy.

But sport does not just bring glory and shiny bits of metal. It is an integral part of the health economy for the UK.

Once the furore that is the Olympics has passed and preparation begins for sporting events in the future, it is the youth of today who will benefit from a healthy lifestyle and sporting prowess that will support the economy [and boy do we need this at the moment] and assist us to reduce the cost of health. With obesity at epidemic proportions, we have to ask ourselves what is the real cost of reducing access to sport and outdoor pursuits?

It is all very well the culture secretary (Jeremy Hunt) describing access to school sport as ‘patchy’, whilst at the same time accepting that there is an ‘element of luck’ for primary school children to have comprehensive support and instruction in sport, but this is just paying lip service to the real issue of encouraging children to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

As a union that invests in the health of the nation, we should all do our bit to oppose the sale of school sports fields, if only to ensure that many of the children retain the right to strive for Olympian status.

But the story does not end here.

We are now entering a period where the future of the coalition is now in a state of flux.

Nick Clegg (remember him!) has accepted defeat over reforms of the House of Lords and in a fit of pique against his buddy, decided to oppose the review of MP constitution boundaries.

Is this a midterm crisis or merely a healthy bit of banter between mates?

It is probably more the former than the latter, although Clegg and Cameron would like us to think otherwise. Maybe the by-election in Corby, which is a Tory marginal seat, with a majority of just 1951, will point to the mood of the nation and opinion about how the electorate view the future of the coalition and their attitudes toward each other and the young.

Labour would like to win this seat back but, judging by their performance thus far in capitalising on anything, I would not place any bet just yet.

Maybe the playground we should now sell off is in Westminster.

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