Guest Post: What Does the Legacy of the Olympics Mean for Sport in Schools?

Richard Mann, the founder of How2become.com, is concerned about the state of sports in schools and believes any Olympic legacy will be wasted if funds aren’t made available for schools to encourage more pupils to get involved…

The thrill of the Olympics has passed. Yes it was a success and British athletes did better than many expected, but what do we do now? In the afterglow of Olympic success it is now time to assess what the legacy of the Olympics might be. Unfortunately it appears that while the Olympics themselves shone a positive light on London and on British Olympic athletes, the same cannot be said for sport in British schools. In previous years school sports have boomed, becoming a source of pride to schools and students alike, but about two years ago when funding to school sports programmes was cut, this all changed for the worse.

Not only were funds cut, the minimum requirement for Physical Education and sport were cut, and a survey of school sports participation was scrapped. Schools have had to take money from other programmes in order to keep school sport viable. What does it say that a country, who just hosted the biggest sporting tournament in the world, refuses to fund school sports and upcoming athletes? The focus in schools is on producing acceptable exam results, rather than providing a well-rounded education.

What is even more worrying is that with diabetes and obesity levels increasing, by cutting school sport funding, the government is also cutting the possibility of producing active, healthy people who believe that exercise is an important part of a daily or weekly routine. With cuts across the board, some of the first teachers to go when layoffs began were sports coaches.

The difference to the previous administration is startling. Rather than cutting funding to school sports they introduced and encouraged a whole range of new sports to schools – permitting students to find a sport that they really loved and wanted to play, not just football and rugby but lacrosse, fencing and hockey.

It is not only sport within schools that has suffered. With the cuts, the competitive meets and matches between schools have also been limited. This has a significant effect on how teams and individuals are able to improve because there is no better instigator of improvement than competition.

Without government interest and investment in sport, schools have also been allowed to drop the ball. Many schools have simply lost interest in sports, promoting them or considering the positive effect it can have on students. Without the governmental survey on school sports it is difficult to know what the exact number of students involved in school sports is. But it is certainly not where it was and not where it should be.

The effects of the recession have resulted in massive cuts in government spending, and the cuts are likely to continue. Funds are going to essential services rather than to ‘luxuries’ like sports and the arts. What kind of impression is this giving the school aged youth? What kind of example is this setting?

Spending billions on a massive sports show like the Olympics, but ignoring the massive hole in school sports, sends the message that sport for children is not important, that a healthy lifestyle is not as important to the government as an influx of money and tourists. Let us hope that the pride felt at the success of the Olympics as a whole, and of the remarkable British athletes will spur on a new generation of sports men and women who can represent Britain at the next Olympics.

Richard McMunn is the director and founder of How2become.com; a career and recruitment specialist. Richard spent 4 years in the Royal Navy and 17 years as a Fire Officer and now provides recruitment training for those looking to join the army, navy and RAF. Find How2become on Twitter

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