2007 - 2021

Clare Balding’s Favourite Rower

I’m on my annual staycation and I inadvertently stumble on a copy of The Scotsman over breakfast. With a listless dread I turn the pages when, on page four, this scoop jumps out at me: “Clare Balding’s Favourite Rower Revealed”.*  I immediately alert the rest of the house and soon people are crowding around me, jostling. As people come to their senses and the full consequences of the story hits-home, some lie, slumped, stunned. Later we are told that: “Balding’s fellow BBC presenter Gabby Logan chose boxer Nicola Adams as her favourite Olympian, while Hazel Irvine chose 1972 Munich Olympics sensation Mark Spitz.”

The sheer inanity for much that passes for news is frequently more disturbing than alleged political bias. It’s more pervasive.

CqepCOUWYAIz5sVThis summer it’s reached a peak with saturation Olympic coverage allied to a hyper British nationalist fervour on the back of the Brexit vote – and with some even arguing that our success is because of the Brexit vote and ‘our’ new-found patriotic fervour. Of course we know that it’s to do with the millions of pounds being poured in from the lottery, a neat exchange between millions of Britain’s poorest people to a handful of elite athletes. In the London Olympics, the rowing was based at a place called ‘Eton Dorney’, or, as you know it ‘Eton’.

Now we have the endless parades and wrap-around news coverage, now we have the clawing demands for knighthoods and gongs for all of them.

I don’t doubt the courage, incredible commitment and skill of these athletes and competitors. Good luck to them and well done Team GB. But we really don’t need this. British Olympic success is being twisted for the most crass political ends.

Theresa May said the other day that:

“Team GB reflects what the Union can achieve when we’re all on the same team and when we work together… When you look at the four nations, we are greater than the sum of our parts”.

Next, the Tory MP for South Derbyshire – Heather Wheeler – thinks something called the ‘British Empire’ won the 2016 Olympics.

Each medal in Rio has cost £5.5m of public funding. This a massive public investment on a handful of – often already privileged people – when we should be channelling money to focus on the many, rather than the few.

The argument that this spectacle encourages grassroots participation is spurious. Health experts tell us that ordinary people in Britain now do less than 30 minutes of exercise per week. That’s even less than we managed before London hosted the Olympics.

As the Independent reports:

“The discrepancy between the impressive achievements by Team GB and a lack of motivation in the population at large is increasing. The number of adults playing any sport has dropped since 2012. In the poorest areas like Yorkshire and Humber, 67,000 fewer people are involved in sport. In Doncaster the decline is over 13 per cent, whereas in well-heeled Oxford, it’s up 14 per cent.”

“Team GB reflects what the Union can achieve when we’re all on the same team and when we work together… When you look at the four nations, we are greater than the sum of our parts”

If you factor in the reality of life in Rio de Janeiro, this really is the global Hunger Games.

8365f56cac03413491ddbe045dfe4cf4_18The reality is that Britain’s sporting national success has been at a large financial and, possibly, social cost.

You can’t early make the sort of investment UK Sport, which decides how to allocate tax and lottery money, has done and still find resources for proper grassroots, mass-participation and community sports . UK Sport’s strategy is to back winners, to seek the rare handful of people who can achieve at an international competition level, and it works. Now the vast bulk of this cash will go to specially selected 14-25 year olds – future winners – and they also find funds for a discrete group of what they call “podium level athletes”.

There’s a neat symmetry here too. As money floods in to pay for the spectacle at the cost of the community, so too is genuine news displaced for ‘sports news’. No doubt the Olympics is a big global event but the main news channels top item today, and yesterday and probably tomorrow, will simply be that these people are getting on  a plane and flying home. Doubtless this will be followed by a stream of banal interviews asking them ‘How do you feel?” “How does it make you feel?” It’s this convergence of celebrity, inanity and spectacle that makes me numb with a dull anger.

There’s something desperate about the need for all this. There’s a lacking, something absent that drives British gasping needy over-reach. The athletes success should be enough. They have their medals, hard-won by dedication few of us can even comprehend. They don’t need to be knighted. They don’t need to be anointed by the British Empire and used as political pawns in a new nationalist frenzy.

As we face a childhood obesity epidemic and rampant diabetes and diet-related ill-health, a failure to invest in sport and healthy-living matters. So what are we going to do about it? Let Them Eat Cake.

 

* Clare Balding’s favourite ever rower is Katherine Grainger.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (52)

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  1. Bryan Weir says:

    I turned on the news this morning before 11am just in time to see blanket coverage from both Sky and the BBC of the p[lane landing in London with some of the athletes on board. I had to think for time. Had we been at war? Were these returning soldiers?

    1. Jack Collatin says:

      At the close of the BBC News Where They Are at lunch time yesterday, the headline news being TEAM GB on board the ‘plane singing Gawd Save Our Quieen, was the image of a gold medal and ribbon, the Butcher’s Apron Jack, a rose and a British Passport.
      Somebody must have dusted down the Berlin Olympics Event Manager’s handbook.
      England, and yes I mean ‘England’ has morphed into a narrow Nationalist Right Wing State following the Brexit result.
      the GERS lies are published today, and the State Broadcaster and the Oligarchy owned Dead Tree Scrolls are in full throttle: Scotland you are shite, and England GB are fuckin’ fabulous.
      The dumbing down of our (GB) media is beyond satire or ridicule.
      I am robustly pro Independence now. I have run out of patience.
      No really, I shall tolerate living in aBrit colony no longer.

  2. Graeme Purves says:

    Or, as the inebriated Cockney I encountered in a restaurant in smokey Funchal would have it:

    “Isn’t England doin’ well in the Olympics! We’re beatin’ China for ‘eaven’s sake! ‘Just goes to show!”

  3. bringiton says:

    The lesson for the Tories and their supporters is that investing in people produces results,something that they are either unwilling or unable to understand.
    As for Team GB,others have pointed out the similar response to end of empire by the Romans who sought to distract their citizens from the harsh reality of their situation.
    Congratulations to all the athletes involved but thank goodness the wall to wall coverage by HM press is over…for now.

  4. Bryan Weir says:

    The wall to wall coverage will continue for a day or three yet. It’s been on the news channels constantly all morning and I see no sign of it ceasing.

  5. Crubag says:

    It’s good to see sports other than football getting some attention.

    Formal sport can help with health, but most people just need more activity and a better diet.

    That should be led from the top – how many of our MSPs could even run for the bus?

    1. James Mills says:

      What’s a bus ?

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Is there a prize for getting the right answer?

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        Gold medal?

  6. Valerie says:

    Excellent comment, Mike, bringing in lots of the inequality issues.

    I was even less interested in these games, than any other year. I think because I do find it hard to find any joy in this type of thing, when we have so many wars, loss of life, refugees, Brexageddon, food banks, redundancies, to name but a few issues.

    It’s a bit nauseating seeing that Heather Wheeler tweet. Spectacular Britnat stupidity.

  7. Neil MacGillivray says:

    This will run and run with receptions at Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street followed of course with processions in Manchester and London, all recorded by the BBC for propaganda purposes. Then it will happen again with BBC Sports Personality and again with the honours lists. Indeed bread and circuses but perhaps not so much bread.

    1. Crubag says:

      And also in Scotland. The Heriot Watt’s new sports performance facility is hosting the reception.

  8. Greenergood says:

    Even within the Olympic movement, there is inequality, as we are told that the budget for the Paralympics is going to be cut due to overspend on the Olympics. This is deeply unfair to the hundreds of athletes who are about to compete, and who are such an inspiration: please sign this petition from 38 degrees:
    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/restore-funding-for-the-rio-paralympics

  9. florian albert says:

    ‘The sheer inanity for much that passes for news’

    The BBC’s coverage of the Olympics in the news is not so much inane as aggressively populist.
    In the not too distant past, the BBC prided itself in not being a cheer leader for GB/Britain/UK.
    It has done a handbreak turn and now outdoes the Daily Mail and Sun in this respect.
    Personally, I think this will backfire. Viewers and listeners held the BBC in higher regard than the tabloids because the former was seen as exemplifying higher, more detached standards. Not any more.

  10. florian albert says:

    sorry ‘handbrake’

  11. Broadbield says:

    Of course this is really State investment, for the lottery is known as a voluntary tax, so this is “Good” but State investment in developing industries for the future, renewables, health care, well that’s just plan “Bad”.

    There’s some good writing in Rethinking Capitalism on State Investment, innovation and growth. (which is “Good”)

  12. Anonymous Joe says:

    WRONG!!!!! WRONG!!!!!!

    You say that it cost us £5.5m per medal, but what else would we do with that cash? We’d only go and spend that money on something rubbish like hospitals or education or helping kids in poverty.

    What you don’t realise is that each £5.5m gives us Brits the chance to say that BRITAIN IS THE BEST because one of us can jump a bit higher than ANYONE in some foreign country, or run a short distance in a fraction of a second less than someone else. Or hit more balls into a net with a stick. You simply can’t put a price on GREAT BRITISH TRIUMPHS like that.

  13. lordmac says:

    Are the awards tainted, if their was no Russian competors

  14. John Robertson says:

    Bread and circuses but less bread than needed.

  15. Mike says:

    Wow, where to start with this unpleasantness, from a middle class white man who revieved one million pounds of tax payers money for his own failed venture growing Kale? Nicola Adams cost much less and is an joy to behold. And yes I am half black and from Bradford and I am a tad partisan.

    Shall we start with the fact that Lottery funding helped pay for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and in training all those wonderful Scottish atheletes reach their potential and bring a few moments of joy while inspiring millions of others to take up amatuer sports. Or how about Andy Murray as perhaps the most priviliged of all those competitors (not that I give two hoots due to the fact that he is an extraordinary sports man and thoroughly nice guy. Good for him he can with pleasure, have my 3 quid a week lottery money).

    And not to mention creative Scotland, arts and sciences and many other low profile organisations that have received masses of lottery funding.

    But lets read between the lines here. One can deduce from the fact that there was no balance or mention of the above in the piece that the spin perhaps other motives?

    So what is it Mike? Is it because Clare Balding is a women? English? A sports person? works for the BBC, or that she is openly gay? And what about Nicola Adams? Is it because she is a women? Black? of immigrant parents? from oh so ‘priviliged’ Leeds FFS, or because she is openly gay also? All over the world ‘decent people’ responded with admiration and praise for the fact that Team GB was the most diverse and inclusive of the games. There were more openly LGBTI in Team GB than any other and there were people with origins and religions from all over the world under the British flag. God Bless Mohammad Farah, east London immigrant and the most gifted human being to grace the racing track. And God Bless the British Lottery players for allowing him to do so. If he and Nicola Adams are honoured by others then good. Who the hell do you think you are Mr Big shot?

    And how many Black or Gay people were in you r Beloved Russia’s line up?

  16. c rober says:

    Great piece , the entertainment of the masses , to hide the truth from them , and funded by themselves – Romans as mentioned.

    Just as well our T.May doesnt have an incursion expected on the Falklands , but eventually the news will find its diversionary divisionary level again , back to – devil dog bites benefit scrounging council housed immigrant Isil paedo – special report after the evening news…. or on Kyle.

    Much as I had many dislikes for questioning the subsidizing of the middling classes as artists , I have the same opinion with regard to the Olympics.

    How about we return to what the Olympics was for , amateurs , not multimillionaire sports stars touting their brand?

  17. Legerwood says:

    I have not watched any of the Olympics coverage other than what has been force fed to people via the BBC news which has virtually been wall to wall Olympics to the exclusion of anything else.

    But I also watch Channel 4 news which I have long considered to be the news service for grown-ups compared to the BBC and never more so than in the last couple of weeks.

    For example, last week the Channel 4 news at 7pm had several major reports from Aleppo over 3 evenings and Krishna Guru-Murthy has also been in Yemen to report on the situation there.

    Ch4 news also broke the story of the Electoral expenses and pursued it over several months yet the BBC news has barely mentioned it even when the matter was reported to the police to investigate.

    It is like switching from Alice in Wonderland to the real world when comparing BBC news output to that on CH4 which has a much smaller operating budget. It is not perfect, reporting on Scottish matters is weak to non-existent for example, but it is head and shoulders above the BBC

  18. john young says:

    I wouldn,t be so churlish about the Olympics,cash input aside most if not all of these competitors have sacrificed a lot and driven themselves to a personal peak so they deserve the kudos.

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      Well perhaps, but there are very few people, who given the choice of doing something you love full-time, getting paid for it, leading a great life and getting to travel around the world all expenses paid, would choose to work for minimum wage on zero hours contracts. Or even worse, to join the many young people who cannot find a job.

      1. Jack Collatin says:

        Or join the army because there is no other work to be had, Bryan.

  19. Coul Porter says:

    Classic diversionary tactic.

    The divisiveness of the Brexit vote is all behind us now. Britain is Great again – the homefires are burning (on imported coal) and there are bluebirds over the rubber dinghies of Dover.

  20. Brian Watters says:

    Im amazed that nobody was killed, poisoned, infected or generally covered in raw Brazilian sewage. Im surprised the stadiums were finished, the toilets worked and events were not disrupted by rebellious favella revolutionaries. Because for the past 6 months according to the British media this was what we should expect from an Olympic games which was stupid enough not to stay in London.
    Seems Johnny foreigner did OK after all?
    Maybe they had help from x pats?

  21. w.b.robertson says:

    But the Rio spectacular cannot really compete with our own, made in Scotland, version of bread and circus for the masses. It is called Rangers v Celtic. On stage regularly, year after year.

  22. Alf Baird says:

    What paradoxical joy: Britannia is now a ‘sporting superpower’ and a bust economy all at the same time. If only the state would pay us all nice salaries to aimlessly run and cycle and bat baws ower nets an swim an aw that……..

    1. bringiton says:

      Reminds me of the Soviet Union just before it’s demise.
      They too were spending vast amounts on things they could not afford.

  23. Haideng says:

    Did a trainload of lemons crash outside of Berwick? Does this mean there will be neither a Scottish Olympic team, or a lottery, if we are ever independent? Or will all lottery money go to those tedious poet bores at the national collective?

  24. john young says:

    There are basket loads of youngsters hanging about doing fcuk all with their lives that could/should be guided into sports of any sorts,it might then give them some perspective in their lives,those youngsters that went to Rio and gave their all should get the credit they deserve,they are only getting out of it what they put into it.

  25. Steven Milne says:

    This article is literally dripping with anti British bigotry.

    Thankfully the grievance mongering lefties who despise achievement in the economic or sporting fields are only a small, albeit very vocal, minority.

    1. Jack Collatin says:

      I believe that it was Chomsky who observed that the Neo Con Liberals in America used the phrase ‘anti-American’ whenever their neo liberal laissez faire capitalist destruction of the world’s economy was criticised by cooler heads. Criticise the Far Right Empire Building warmongering US Establishment then you are against ‘America’.
      I see ‘anti British’ appearing more often now that ‘we’ are a ‘fabulous’ (an adjective employed everywhere on broadcasts and the columns in the Dead Tree Scrolls) Team GB Sports ‘Superpower’, especially by the Unionist Brit Nationalists, a glib shorthand designed to put down more cool heads who question the rabid fascist nonsense spouted by the New English Right, and this farce of an Olympics.
      Possibly 40 to 45 million didn’t watch the Olympics, yet ‘all eyes’ are on Tokyo, according to BBC Radio News Where We Are’s Kaye Adams.
      I had no time for the Union Flag before: now it engenders disquiet, bordering on disgust, especially when it is used in a clearly pre arranged and co-ordinated fashion as a cloak of Dominance by athletes in Rio, whose adverts and TV Appearances and fabulous riches ensure that they are willing stooges for the State Propaganda machine.
      The Holy London Empire.

    2. Coul Porter says:

      Careful Steven,

      Those who are incapable of debating a challenge to the orthodoxy, invariably resort to the Manual of Unionist Principles.
      In it, you will find no mention of the Highland Clearances, the Irish Potato Famine, maltreatment of the Australian Aboriginies etc., but lots on the battles of Waterloo, Trafalgar etc. – important victories though they were.

      The ‘Accentuate the positive’ approach is wearing a bit thin for this divergent thinker.

  26. Iain says:

    Excellent article.

    I hate to appear an old bore bemoaning the modern world, but I dislike what has happened to the Olympics: the professionalism; the commercialism; the building of new expensive facilities in each host country to the detriment of everyday social needs; and certainly in the UK we know, the media hype and trivia.

    And the chauvinism: it used to be the case that the ‘medals table’ was something shown as an afterthought, with acknowledgement that it was unofficial, heavily influenced by economic development and population, and nothing to do with the spirit of the Games. Now it’s part of the show, and the drive by the UK to improve its position on the medal table by selectively funding particular sports and events was a negation of that spirit. And, as the article says, indicative of an inglorious desperation to reassert a global status which has long been untenable.

  27. KatyJ says:

    All sport at the top level is now full time. You cannot train 24 hours plus a week and seriously consider yourself to be an amateur. They give up so much to reach their goal. Miss parties, family get togethers and certainly have no more than three weeks off training a year. The negative statements here are why so many top athletes cannot bring themselves to vote YES.
    We have so many athletes in the world top thirty but a football team that can barely make top forty gains press coverage and accolades for over earning footballers. But they aren’t deemed elitist because its football???

  28. Haideng says:

    It’s this kind of relentless childish negativity that puts the vast majority off Independence. We go from an interesting post about serious economics where there is real debate to be had to this whinge.

    Sorry Mike, but you can’t sneer at ‘elite atheletes’ and claim they are soley the product of money, that they are a waste of money and should not be funded, that support for them is only for political purposes and propaganda then completely contradict yourself by saying well done chaps to qualify the fact that your not an anti English bigot, it doesn’t look good at all. And forr your information the area to benefit most from sporting lottery are greater Glasgow and greater Manchester(the area with the highest medal tally and hardly a bastion of privilige – but you go ahead and spin it for your own crass political ends).

    Believe it or not a lot of Scots (including Yes voters) also enjoyed the Olympics and have no issue supporting great atheletes irrespective of their background – privilige or not Michael Phelps is astonishing, so is Mo Farah and as for Usain Bolt (not sure any of them come from especial privilige?) And even if Scotland did become independent there is a strong chance that Team GB would continue with regards to Britain wide funding (Irish and many other atheletes from smaller nations train using British lottery funded facilities – e.g. the fantastically humble and unassuming Triatheletes Brownelee brothers training partner in Yorkshire is Richard Varga from Slovenia. The Olympics isn’t simply all about money and flag waving, for many it’s about excellence and drama and individual courage. And yes sport and culture is crassly used by governments and media for political ends, just like this site does with language, culture and many other essentially non political issues, but so what? People aren’t as foolish as you patronisingly assume. They can smell the BS and support their hero’s regardless.

  29. Bryan Weir says:

    No one is disputing that of the Olympic competitors put a lot of work into getting where they are. Likewise, no one is disputing that some of them are humble, nice folks.

    Just bear in mind that there are many thousands of others who would choose the life of a full time, well-paid Olympic prospect, often with regular all expenses paid trips around the world to train and compete, versus working for places like Amazon and Sports Direct on minimum wage, zero hours contracts.

    I like to see our athletes doing well but don’t give me this nonsense about the sacrifices they make. Remember that most of them have chosen to do this because it is what they like to do and they get paid for it. Many of them also do it because of the potential rewards. They are really not that much different from any other professional sports person.

    1. katyJ says:

      Well paid? A podium potential swimmer will get £5000 per year. The top level swimmers may be lucky enough to get between £15000 and £27000. Of the nine Scottish swimmers out in Rio one has no lottery funding. If you don’t ‘perform’ your funding is cut. No athlete does it for potential reward that’s not what drives them.

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        “No athlete does it for potential reward that’s not what drives them.”

        No athlete? You cannot be serious surely?

  30. Alf Baird says:

    Sport is only a game. However when sport becomes your livelihood and profession, however short-lived, it becomes your job and business, and is arguably then no longer a sport (i.e. it is not solely for enjoyment). Participation in sport for the masses is what really matters, not the funding/subsidy of professional elites to enable them to win events so that political and self-interested institutional elites can wallow in the wake of their efforts.
    Useful synonyms explaining what sport actually is include: ‘activity, amusement, diversion, entertainment, exercise, fun, games, pastime, play, pleasure, recreation’. Profession on the other hand implies: ‘business, career, craft, employment, job, line of work, occupation, trade, vocation’.
    I used to play a sport competitively, as an amateur (i.e. also keeping down a full time job at the same time). During the 1980’s I became dismayed to see youngsters leaving school and becoming ‘professional’ at that particular sport. These youngsters seemed devoid of much personality or conversation, living out of hotels from one event to the next, continuous practice making them ‘machine like’, many eventually burning out physically and psychologically, and with other side-effect familial damage too (e.g. parental marriage splits). Hence when many elite professional sports people are interviewed they seldom have much of any substance to say due in part to the absence of what we might term ‘normal’ work and leisure socialization experiences plus what tends to be a disruptive family life.

  31. Anton says:

    I don’t know what to make of this post. Team GB won a lot of medals at the Rio Olympics, and a lot of public figures have made a lot of inane remarks, and the British media has gone overboard with hyperbole. What’s so wrong about that?

    Aha, says Mike, it means that “genuine news” has been displaced by “sports news”.

    So when the Scottish football team wins the World Cup, and the Scottish media goes into a frenzy of self-congratulation (as it surely will), I look forward to Mike complaining bitterly that “genuine news” is being displaced and that athletic success should not be exploited for nationalistic purposes. That would surely be as distasteful as (say) a Scottish politician unfurling a national flag if a Scot were to win at Wimbledon.

  32. douglas clark says:

    Anton.

    “So when the Scottish football team wins the World Cup….”

    Perhaps heaven will open and sinners will float around the place.

  33. Craig Miller says:

    didnt watch one second of it …turned off the news …took my own bags to Aldi so i didnt have to carry the brits flag …..i am a Scottish nationalist …i rejected all that stuff utterly about the time i left school its called …rejectionism …never a brit but under duress

  34. Ted says:

    The cynical remember the spiel about the legacy of London 2012…………the legacy of Glasgow 2014. Things are still crap for those living in the areas where the Games were held. Kudos to all the athletes, especially those who took part, did their best but never made the podium. As in most sports, ignore the commentators in the media and enjoy the event.

  35. c rober says:

    Fox hunting is that still a sport? Bull fighting?

    The interpretation of what is a sport matters , lottery funding for Horse jumping , naw miny scots wi a horse on the 12th flair. Lottery funding for Gymnastics mibbe , but the weans are too fat noo to run awa if they gie ye a bit a cheek , well that and childline.

    Perhaps E – Sports may be better , weans sitting in front o a telly playing fitba – but even thats noo replaced wi minecraft , scotland will have a great export soon fat architects.

    Footballs a sport , supposedly the one for the lower classes , yet yer hard pushed to see a wean wi a ba’ in the park. So why not covered stadiums , oor game is but a inch awa fae being water polo anyway – two sports fur wan. But again thats covered , fifa 17 is oot in a couple of days on all the consoles.

    Whit aboot darts , theres miny o us that huv that athletes build.

    Or we could go backwards , medals awarded for poetry , well thats the hairy wummin sorted , me I will just look on eurosports and get back to beach volleyball with hankies at the ready.

  36. Fay Kennedy. says:

    The Romans knew well the bread and circus trick. And it never fails. Try Australia with its sport mania now probably a Royal Commission on the cards to see why the low medal count. Now omitorium would be appreciated. The Romans dis some things right. Am suffering in silence in the land down under where women weep and men chunder. Gratitude to ‘Men at Work’.

  37. Douglas says:

    The Ancient Greeks invented the Olympics.
    They also invented Western Philosophy.
    The two things went together.
    Somebody – Kant? Hegel? – described all Western philosophy as “a footnote to Plato”
    The central question of Greek Philosophy was “what is the good life?”. What is the best way for a human being to live?
    Socrates said (through Plato) that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
    Aristotle believed in “the golden mean”. Everything in moderation.
    The Greeks were not interested in material wealth. They were interested in self-cultivation.
    The body was the temple of the soul.
    Sport was a key elements of the good life.

    2300 years later, university departments of Philosphy, Ethics and the Humanities are being shut down and underfunded, the very existence of the Humanities is rubished and ridiculed by many. Capitalism dictates that people are educated only to serve the needs of the completely rigged market.

    There is no teaching of ethics in school, at all. Not even after the demise of religion. Nobody is asked to wonder “What is the good life” and “what is the best political system of government?”, which is another question which the Greeks asked.

    No, all that is left of the Greeks are the Olympics, a parody of what the Greeks thoughts sports were for. The husk without the kernel. It’s all about money, so we have these capitalist Olympics, just like we have capitalist football now.

    I admire the athletes and hold them to be blameless for the circus which surrounds. But suffice to say I did not spend even a second watching the Olympics this summer. Instead, I read Plato.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      There is no teaching of Scots language in our schools (or universities) either. Cultural deprivation? Wha’s like us indeed.

      1. Douglas says:

        Instead of filling bairns heids with a load of FACTS, we need ETHICS in schools.

        If we had some philosophy and ethics in secondary school, the demand on social services would drop dramatically, because people would be taught how to become self-aware about their own feelings, actions and lives… they would be taught how to think, and how to make decisions, how to manage their own lives.

        The current fad of “mindfulness” and all of the self-awareness fads out there are all plagiarised from the Greeks and the Romans, the Stoics not least, who are all VERY EASY to read. A 12 year old could understand most of Plato’s dialogues.

        Chirstianity used to serve as an ethical template, a dogma imposed imposed from above, an instructions manual for how to live. But most people don’t believe in Christianity these days, or any religion.

        Instead of the SNP banging on about the “attainment gap”, we should be talking about the “well-being gap”. Sport would form part of any well-being drive, taking part in it as opposed to “winning medals”…

        As Kafka once wrote: “Why would anybody want to win a race?”

        EXACTLY!

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