|PR puffing of minority sports harms chances of real success|
There was a feature on John Beattie’s Saturday BBC Radio Scotland sports show this week profiling a sport new to this country - floor ball.
Now sports journalists at the BBC are never shy of bemoaning the lack of facilities and the lack of incentive for taking up the national sport, football; or Association Football to give it its Sunday name and avoiding confusion with other wanna be footballs.
But here is one of the leading sports journalists giving taxpayers air time to a sport - similar to hockey - that is played by no more than two men and a dog here and in less than three Scandinavian countries and maybe the Czech Republic.
Today’s internet gaming generation has enough distractions from developing a passion for sport to have any potential interest diluted by unnecessary PR puffing of minority sport distractions.
I don’t think it is any coincidence that as the number of sports we actively promote in our schools increases from the marginal like basketball and volleyball; to the frankly obscure like handball, various martial arts and floor ball, that performance in our national sport has declined catastrophically.
As a country of five million we have problems as it is competing with our larger nation opponents without people like Mr Beattie trying to convince the next generation that hitting a hollow plastic ball with holes in it around a gym hall is the road to sporting glory.
There is only one track that leads to sporting glory for Scotland; the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships with the UEFA Champions League to fill in the gaps.
For those thinking of arguing the case Rugby Union don’t bother, it still manages to punch well above its weight in media coverage, but this has much to do with the demographic of the people running the game rather than anything else. It has always been limited to the public school margins of the central belt, with its disproportionate contribution to the establishment this has, and around the farming areas of the borders.
Even then it has seen its core audience fade away recently to the point there are now less than 5000 regular rugby players in the whole country,
To the point there are now more regular cricket players in this country. And we saw recently how good they were suffering a humiliating defeat by Afghanistan, a country that barely has a government let alone a sports strategy.
The argument that people have the freedom to choose is fine. But along with this has to be accepted that if choice is the most important thing, then this country will be a consigned to a nation of also rans across the board.
Represented in everything, champions of none. So why not focus everything; money, media attention, political will, on the nation’s number one, Association Football.
The New Zealanders are past masters at developing competitive advantage. The whole focus on their sports strategy is the development of Rugby Union. The result, they have never, ever been out of the world’s top three.Their focus and indeed success at other sports, virtually zero.
Forget funding for minority sports and start focusing on the mainstream for once. We need to focus our resources on our number one supporter sport, for male and females, if we are to succeed on the only sporting stages that matter. The BBC has the opportunity to champion this cause, so they should get on with it and leave the floor ball to the Scandinavians.