Posted: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:26
A campaign has been launched by "Fund British Basketball" and has gathered some high profile backers over the course of the last few weeks, including Sir Clive Woodward where he argued the following:
In a column in the Daily Mail, England's World Cup winning rugby coach and former British Olympic Association's Director of Elite Performance wrote:
"We must adopt a broader and longer-term vision and aspiration rather than leave ourselves accused of developing an unhealthy lust for medals at all costs, and invest and develop other sports, especially team sports on the back of our Olympic and Paralympic triumph.
"It is much more difficult to win medals in team sports compared to individual sports and, traditionally, they do not add many medals to the final medal table because they are not multi-discipline events like rowing, cycling boxing, swimming and athletics. In team sports like basketball you usually only have the men's team and women's team.
"Yet, if you analyse the low cost and highly accessible aspect of most team sports, compared to other sports and those which sit comfortably in our inner communities, it is completely baffling to me, why funding has been completely stopped in this area."
The statement from Fund British Basketabll reads as below:
"As I hope you are aware, the UK basketball community was rocked last month with the news that British Basketball has had its funding cut to zero by UK Sport for the next Olympic cycle toward 2016.
The implications of this are very severe and means an end to Team GB as we know it - no money to be able to afford NBA players such as Luol Deng and Joel Freeland, world class coaches or support staff.
For a sport that provides benefits to so many, as you know, this is an outrageous decision that needs to be reversed.
A campaign called 'Fund British Basketball' has been started, with the aim to get as many people as possible to sign an online petition to make the government take notice.
The petition is here:
Please sign it right away, and get a minimum of 10 of your friends to do the same. If we all take action together, it should be no time before we get a sizeable number of people supporting the campaign to be able to approach the government with.
There is also an accompanying website at www.fundbritishbasketball.com to follow the campaign news, and the hashtag #fundbritishbasketball is being used on Twitter to track tweets.
Please take action today and help secure the future of British basketball."
Here at the Sports Think Tank we did try to open the debate about the funding for 'Team Sports' and those who were not likely to medal in Rio 2016 as part of the 'No Compromise' approach to elite funding. As always we simply wanted to open up a nation wide dialogue about what people and sport wanted from its public investment in elite sport (assuming of course you accept lottery and exchequer funding being used to secure Gold medals at the Olympics in the first place). We have not concluded either way - we simply wanted there to be an open and transparent process for a proper consultation and honest debate. We would encourage research in this area and look forward to receiving articles.
As part of our rationale to create good public sports policy based on evidence and open dialogue the minimum we would have expected was a nationwide debate about the issue of No Compromise. There are many non-Olympic sports who equally feel they have lost out on the funding they enjoyed pre-Olympics. Their voice needs to be heard and the decision on such a sensitive issue surely needs to be made by more than the Sports Minister and UK Sport Board.
The No Compromise approach may well be the right decision - but as our own mini survey on the website shows there are mixed feelings about this issue. It is a shame it has taken the bravery of Basketball to challenge the decision to create a public debate.
Of course GB Volleyball have also made their views known here http://www.britishvolleyball.org/News.php?articleId=485
Posted: Wed, 15 Aug 2012 12:02
No one can deny that the London 2012 Olympic Games have been a resounding success for Team GB, and Great Britain as a whole. The upsurge in support and patriotism for Team GB, and the third place in the medals table, have given us all something to shout about and celebrate.
Inevitably, we now have politicians making announcements and statements on their thoughts and plans for the future, and of course we must welcome these if they are to create the crucial sporting legacy of increased sports participation, and sustain excellence in elite performance. But there remain some underlying problems and issues that if left unchallenged, have the potential to de-rail the progress that has been made. In the UK, we have a two tier funding structure: UK Sport fund elite performance, and the Home Countries sports councils fund participation and "grass roots" sport. Yet we have seen from the London 2012 Olympics that these two are inextricably linked. The medal winning successes of our elite athletes drives participation not only in their sports, but in a range of other sports as well. Furthermore, the unique exposure of lesser known sports where medals have not been won by Team GB (volleyball, handball, basketball and wrestling for example), provides the chance for enhanced participation and performance in these sports as well.
In order to achieve the third place in the medals table, UK Sport have adopted a "no compromise" approach, where the winning of medals is an essential and targeted requirement for future funding. In the build up to London 2012, this has, to some extent, been relaxed, so that sports with minimal chance of winning medals can benefit from "host nation status" and enter teams or individuals, providing they demonstrated "credibility" to the British Olympic Association. But now that the London 2012 Olympics are over, we enter the Rio funding cycle, where the medal winners, and those who can confidently predict winning medals in Rio, are destined for more funds, whilst those who are less likely to win medals, could fall by the wayside. Of course, riding high in the medals table is important, but when reflecting on the success of London 2012, it is clear that the nation wants more than that - we want to see our athletes perform to the best of their ability, and to see Team GB competing in a range of sports, not just those where the chance of a medal is high. Furthermore, the emerging sports that have had such unique exposure during London 2012, are almost certainly those where the potential to increase participation is at its greatest. But increases in participation have to be driven by, and feed into, an elite performance structure. Cutting off funds for elite performance, simply because a team may not win an Olympic medal, seems a poor return for the investment that has been made so far.
Each sport was set a performance target for London 2012 by UK Sport. I have heard of a Performance Director who was close to tears after one of his squad won a medal, not just because of his delight for the athlete, but because he knew his sport had hit their medal target, and gone a long way to secure funding for the next four years. Surely results which are affected by the performance of a single individual, a poor decision by an umpire, or an untimely injury cannot be the best foundation for sustainable sports development and future funding?
The position with team sports is even worse (and here I must confess to being the Chair of the British Handball Association). Fund, for example, 20 swimmers, and the multitude of distances, strokes and relays offer the potential for - say - 40 medals. Fund 20 members of a team sport squad, and there is at most the chance of a single medal. The financial model makes it more sensible to fund the individual sports, yet as a nation with team sports embedded in our culture, and with the potential for huge increases in performance and participation, we must surely find a means of funding all of our sports on a sustainable basis, not just those who can offer the best medal return for every pound invested.
So my plea is not to get carried away with the success of our third position in the medals table, and assume that the existing funding structure is perfect and not open to challenge. If we are to really benefit from the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games, we must look at how best to provide sustainable funds for all sports, improving participation and supporting excellence.
Professor of Sport, University of Bedfordshire
Chair, British Handball Association
Posted: Mon, 13 Aug 2012 23:23
Now the 2012 Games have ended the focus shifts back to the Sports Landscape organisations as decisions about their futures and funding have been put on hold in the last couple of years.
The announcement today that Lord Moynihan will step down in November will start a game of musical chairs in sports administration. This will leave a vacancy at the head of the BOA in difficult times. Whilst it has delivered a Gold medal tally (or UK Sport did?) we can all be proud of it has a large financial deficit to deal with. Without a home games the role of the BOA probably returns to being a 'logistical organiser'/travel agent for TeamGB in 2016. So whilst an important role it will not have the same power as during this Olympic cycle. Names are already being put around in the press but it is too early to say who the front runners are. The BOA will have to decide what sort of skills they require after the combatative years with Colin Moynihan at the helm. Don't rule out a return to 'front-line' politics for him. A sports Minister again in the Lords?
It is likely Baroness Sue Campbell will stand down as Chair of UK Sport at around the same time. As the merger of UK Sports and Sport England back on the agenda now that the Games are over it is likely that Sir Keith Mills will be the favourite to take over the new joint body. Baroness Campbell it is likely would stay on at the Youth Sport Trust for some time.
As we have learned Lord Coe has been appointed to an unpaid part time role as Legacy Ambassador. It is unclear what this will mean. But it is clear that Coe is not thinking of a return to front line politics. So we have t wait to see if this is one of those Jobs without meaning. I hope not.
Over at Sport England there is no sign that Richard Lewis is in a hurry to move anywhere despite the change of role - taking over at AELTC earlier this year. His future of course will be in doubt if the merger does go ahead and Sir Keith emerges as Chair. It will be interesting to see if he creates Deputy Chair roles for the two bodies previous functions. It would make sense.
In terms of key staff there have been changes already with Peter Keene changing his role at UK sport. The two CEOs of the two bodies have not made any formal announcements about their futures. So we will be looking to see what happens to key LOCOG staff. There are plenty of very talented people about to enter the sports job market.
And what will happen in government? The Prime Minister has been averse to reshuffles so far in the life of this government unless they have been forced on him. In the normal cycle of events we may have something happen before the party conference season? What will happen to the key players - Gove, Hunt and Robertson? Each have had an impact in their own way. Gove most famously for cutting SSPs and £162m from school sport. Hunt for slowly getting sport and focussing on the Olympics and the School Games. Robertson for being well liked by the sport lobby for at least understanding the sector - although many feel he has been undperpowered in this government... as Sports Ministers often are!
As Kevin Jeffrey points out in his Book on sports politics much is decided by the Prime Minister. In some ways Cameron probably enjoys sport (he played tennis for a bit for the parliamentary team) but has not really enjoyed getting down into the detail (a criticism from his own side on many issues). So we will have to see if he genuinely takes an interest from now onwards.
Here at the Sports Think Tank we are not interested in personalities per se. But we do recognise that, as we have seen in the last couple of weeks, when talking and deciding Olympic Legacy policy the positions anecdotes and opinions of some of the key people are vital. The fact that we have a Cabinet of millionaire Public school Boys in charge of Sport does have an impact.
Finally - if the Ministers change then the SPADs equally change. There is a possibility that sport will see a massive change in the key personalities in the next 5-6 months. Without knowing who will replace these key figures it is difficult to know what impact it will have. What we do know is that in policy terms we have to keep trying to get over our evidence based facts to whoever is running sport in 2013!