Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

Education :: School

spotCampaigns

spotOrganisations

spotArguments for socialism

spotPeople

spotInternational

spotEvents

spotAround the UK


All keywords


All Campaigns subcategories:

Anti-capitalism

Anti-fascist

Anti-racism

Anti-war

Asylum

Black and Asian

Building the Socialist Party

Campaigns

Children

CNWP

Corporate crime

Culture and reviews

Disability

* Education

Election campaigns

Environment

EU

Finance

Food

Gender Recognition Act

Health and safety

Health and welfare

Housing

Human Rights

LGBT Pride

LGBTQ+

Local government

Local services

Low pay

Migration

Nationalisation

New workers party

News

NHS

NHS and health

Pensions

Political representation

Post Office

Poverty

Privatisation

Public Services

Readers' opinions and reviews

Reviews and readers' opinions

Rights

Services

Socialism

Socialist

Sport

Stop the slaughter of Tamils

Students

The state

Transport

TUSC

Welfare and benefits

Welfare rights

Women

Workplace and trade union

Workplace and TU campaigns

Youth

Youth and students


School


Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 1144, 11 August 2021: Defend the NHS. Fight the Tory pay insult. Prepare strike action!

Search site for keywords: Sport - Cuts - Inequality - Working-class - School

Olympic 'success' masks cuts and inequality in sport

photo Arne Muesler/CC

photo Arne Muesler/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Lenny Shail, Socialist Party National Committee

Every Olympics reflects the sad contradiction of the world we live in, but Tokyo 2020 took this to a whole new level.

On the one hand, millions of people enjoyed and were inspired by the exhilarating displays of speed, skill, elegance and endurance of Kipchoge in the men's marathon, British BMX rider Beth Shriever powering to gold, and Charlotte Worthington becoming the first woman to land a 360-degree backflip.

But on the other hand, the games took place against the backdrop of protests in Japan. The games went ahead purely to preserve the mega-profits of exploitative companies. Meanwhile, Covid infections and deaths in Japan continue to rise rapidly. While all Olympic athletes and team staff were sure to get vaccines, roll-out has barely got going in Japan.

Working class participation

And there is another aspect still, Team GB's success in the medal table, hides a rapidly growing crisis of access and participation in sports and exercise.

According to a recent presentation by Sport England, in the last decade about half of Team GB medallists attended a private school, while only 6% of serial medallists attended school in a city, compared with 39% of the UK population.

This reveals serious problems with how sport is funded and organised - who controls the funds, and what objectives sporting organisations seek to achieve.

Millions, young and old, will have been inspired in the last two weeks, but the opportunities for working-class people in Britain to take part in basic sports - let alone those requiring equipment and facilities - are worse than ever.

In May, a report highlighted how one third of children now leave primary school unable to swim, with 40% not given swimming lessons even though it is part of the national curriculum.

This is a consequence of years of cuts, austerity and attacks to school and public swimming facilities. A similar fate has met most other public sports and exercise facilities.

Previously, the Sports Council, with its motto 'sport for all', directed and governed sport in the UK. In 1994 the Tory government replaced it with UK Sport, which concentrates funding on top-end professionals.

The idea behind this came from former Olympian and Tory, Sebastian Coe. He saw financial support for elite sport as the overriding priority, putting local authorities in charge of grassroots sport.

But over many years of Tory and New Labour attacks on public services, funding for mass participation has been one of the first victims. This has excluded the majority from ever getting the opportunity to try out many sports.

Sports funding elitism has even reached a stage where some athletes were denied selection for Rio and Tokyo, despite having qualifying times, because they weren't deemed 'medal winners'.

The Socialist Party campaigns for the funding, facilities and time for everyone to take part in sports. Reverse cuts and sell-offs of school and community facilities, we call for the nationalisation of all sport and exercise facilities for the benefit of everyone and for investment in free, high-quality sport aimed at participation at every level.


Working-class athletes blocked historically

Throughout recent history the ruling class has attempted to block working-class people from sports. The infamous 'mechanics exclusion clause' was adopted by many early amateur sports bodies in the 19th century, including rowing and even athletics. Its job was to keep out the successful new breed of working-class professional athletes.

These rules excluded not only those who made a simple living from sports, but also anyone "who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer." Later these sports, predominately Olympic, allowed workers to take part - but banned 'professionals', allowing those with the luxury of an independent income, and not having to work, the time to train and travel to compete. This gave these 'amateurs' huge advantages over working-class athletes who toiled each day at work.

While cricket allowed amateurs and professionals to play together, it wasn't until 1962 that the distinction between amateurs (aka the Gentlemen) and professionals (aka the Players) was ended.

Despite this, many workers throughout the 20th century continued to pursue their chosen sport to the highest level. This often involved training multiple hours a day around full-time manual work.

Many working-class athletes smashed the obstacles the ruling elites put before them, and many still do today, as has been shown over the last two weeks. BMX rider, and gold medal winner, Beth Shriever had her funding withdrawn, unlike the male BMX riders.

Today, low wages and long working hours are still an insuperable barrier to many aspiring athletes.

A socialist society could see a complete change in how sport is organised and run. All sports and facilities could be opened up, and hugely expanded, for enjoyment by everyone. This could be run democratically by fans, athletes, coaches and the local community.

It could be based around workplaces, schools, communities, and local clubs, as part of a nationally planned set-up sharing expertise and resources.

This would allow everyone to play and take part to whichever standard they wish - just for fun, to keep fit or to become a professional athlete.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Education keywords:

Academies (196)

Classroom assistants (8)

College (287)

Colleges (98)

Council (2455)

ESOL (5)

Education (1194)

Free Schools (17)

Further education (2)

Grant (34)

Higher Education (92)

Medway (14)

Ofsted (17)

Performance (34)

Performance-related (7)

SATs (26)

School (678)

Schools (494)

Students (1338)

Teachers (504)

Teaching assistants (31)

Universities (176)

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Article dated 11 August 2021

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

MEMBER RESOURCES

Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales

Leaflets

Bulk book orders

New member submission

WHAT'S ON

triangle1 Dec Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: China - 1928 to the 1949 revolution

triangle2 Dec Cardiff East Socialist Party: The Russian Revolution 1917 - what happened?

triangle2 Dec Southampton Socialist Party: A report from the Socialism 2021 event

More...


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1158 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files


Socialism 2021 rally, Saturday 20th November 2021: Our future at stake - What now for the struggle for socialism?

More videos ...

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version