Cuts to Sport Funding
Last week Sport England released their newest figures detailing the changes in funding for sport in the post-London 2012 world. The figures suggest and overall increase in sport investment of almost £100 million but the story is not all good.
Sports that did not meet their expected medal haul in the Olympics will find their wallets significantly lighter this year than before. The most notable of these sports is swimming. Before 2012 local pools across the country were introducing government sponsored free swim programs for people under the age of 16. This is a great example of a grass roots investment designed to get people interested in the sport making it far more likely that the talented people will soon be found. However in the wake of 2012, which saw a disappointing week in the pool from the now retired Rebecca Adlington among others, swimming has now had its budget cut from £20.9 million to just £9.5 million. There is an additional £10 million allocated towards swimming that could be given if the sport meets certain very strict conditions.
The same is true for table tennis, a sport with low Olympic expectations and even lower results which has had its budget slashed to a measly £2.5 million. However even the Olympic wonder stories are not the safe from the cut of the Sport England accountants.
Last year Team GB rowing received the best rowing medal haul in history, one that Sir Steve Redgrave believes will be unbeatable. With this incredible fact in mind we now learn that rowing has been allocated £400,000 less than it has in recent years. Given that rowing is one of the more expensive sports and one of Britain’s best one must wonder what they have done to deserve this.
On the other side of the coin is the similarly incredible story of cycling. Their story last year was not just about the Olympics as Bradley Wiggins became the first Brit to ever win the Tour de France. As a reflection of this success cycling’s budget is now the highest of all sports at £32 million, a rise of 33 per cent since last year. Investment is an integral part of sport; money needs to be spent on coaches and equipment and slashing the budgets of less successful sports like Table Tennis or swimming denies them the training opportunities they need to become successful. A single person with talent enough to win a gold medal can be easily forgotten or left behind without proper support that can only come with proper funding. It would be appropriate to view these figures not as a drop in funding but as a drop in opportunity for talented individuals.