For $20 and a pick of the board, name the five events in the modern pentathlon.
Time’s up. Correct answer? No one cares.
Actually it’s fencing, show jumping, swimming, shooting and running. And still you don’t care.
Name the last Australian to win gold in the modern pentathlon.
Time’s up. Correct answer? No one cares.
Actually it’s Chloe Esposito. She won gold at the Rio Olympics. And still you don’t care.
And why should you? Most Olympic sports are unwatched outside the quadrennial festival of irrelevant sports, which makes The Australian’s article today by its sports editor so … surprising.
The weak case for funding dopey, obscure sports
The Australian is a good economically rational paper. When gold is worth nothing: why government needs to better fund elite athletes by sports editor Wally Mason makes zero sense.
The article, giving Esposito the most coverage she’s had since the Olympics, was a pleading for more financial support for obscure sports. Your money.
It was presented through the lens of “42 Australian legends who signed an open letter in The Australian today calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to put more resources into sport are not interested in the superstars of the NRL or the AFL. Or Australia’s extremely comfortable elite cricketers. Or Super Rugby or A-League players”.
Good luck with that.
Some are ‘legends’. Most are distant memories or the answers you will always get wrong at pub trivia.
The case being put is that unless more money goes to elite sport we’ll all die of obesity.
Or something like that.
The article is actually part of a wider campaign and coincided with an address to the National Press Club by Matt Carroll, CEO of the Australian Olympic Team.
— National Press Club (@PressClubAust) October 24, 2018
Fisking the 42
The 42 ‘legends’ make the case that:
THE CLAIM: Our reputation as a sporting nation and as a nation of healthy, optimistic people is under threat.
THE RESPONSE: So what?
THE CLAIM: Sport is being asked to contribute more and more. To tackle obesity and disease. To unite our nation in pride and even to create bonds of friendship around the globe where diplomacy has failed.
THE RESPONSE: Elite sportspeople don’t have obesity problems … eating disorders, but not obesity … shotput and powerlifters aside. This is a rubbish claim. And diplomacy? Get over yourselves. Sportspeople can’t even be trusted at mad Monday.
THE CLAIM: When our current generation of athletes and future Olympians and Paralympians are forced to crowd source for the funds to represent Australia at world cup and international competition, you know that we have a funding model that is broken.
THE RESPONSE: No, we know that taxpayers are sick of paying for brats that treat us like mugs. Tennis, we’re looking at you.
THE CLAIM: High performance will inevitably transform into mediocrity. Our diverse tapestry of sporting endeavour will erode. Fewer sports, fewer athletes and fewer results.
THE RESPONSE: Australia cares about cricket and soccer in summer and footballs in winter. Heptathlon, shotput, swimming … meh. Not our problem, don’t make it our expense.
THE CLAIM: Sport is not a charity case. It is an investment in our national wellbeing. High performance encourages participation. Participation produces healthy outcomes for children and adults alike.
THE RESPONSE: No. Good suburban grounds and low participation fees for juniors encourage participation. Hiding behind children is cowardly.
THE CLAIM: In a Federal budget of some $488 billion, direct grants to sport amount to $130 million. That’s 0.0266 per cent of the federal budget. Sure, there are costs to run Sport Australia and the AIS, but these sports are the fabric and they are suffering.
THE RESPONSE: That’s our money so be grateful, brats.
THE CLAIM: Sport Australia itself has seen a reduction of 20 per cent in real terms in its appropriation funding since 2010-11.
THE RESPONSE: And average wages have barely moved but our expenses have risen. Boo-friggidy-hoo.
THE CLAIM: While not begrudging the money spent on new stadiums to host sports with multi-million-dollar TV and sponsorship deals, it’s hard to reconcile this spending with the decline in funding for the vast network of sports who make do with whatever they can.
THE RESPONSE: No, it’s not hard. Money is spent on popular sports, by TV companies and governments. If you can’t fill a suburban ground for your crappy sport don’t raid our pockets to fund your hobby.
THE CLAIM: When our glorious record of achievement at the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games is substituted for a pathetic funding version of the Hunger Games, you know it’s time to say enough.
THE RESPONSE: What does this even mean? Hyperbole much? If there was a gold medal in whingeing, sheesh. And apart from that tennis player who went on Q&A, no one can name a paralympic athlete who isn’t a relative.
THE CLAIM: Across Australia, tens of thousand of devoted volunteers, athletes and support crews understand this growing crisis. Improved funding for participation and high performance will deliver a handsome dividend for any government and, more importantly, for Australians broadly.
THE RESPONSE: This is blackmail. Spend the money on kids sport and local teams – they also happen to be the taxpayers whose pockets you want to raid. And they’re the ones likely to turn up to your sports. Bottom up would be a better approach. The crisis is not at elite level – it’s when league charged juniors up to $350 a year to play.
And on, and on it goes.
If this dirge had been written by artists wanting money for art people wouldn’t voluntarily pay for they would be laughed at.
Just because the signatories carry a javelin and not a pen doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the same treatment.
Here’s an idea, if you play a sport no one cares about but you expect others to pay for it, sorry sister, but you’ve made a bad life choice. Your bad decision doesn’t make it everyone else’s problem.
Get a job. Leave taxpayers alone.
Where they can find savings
One last point …
At the 2016 Olympics, Australia was ranked in tenth position on the medal table with a total of 29 medals (8 gold, 11 silver, and 10 bronze). This was Australia’s lowest medal tally and lowest rank since Barcelona in 1992.
At the Rio Olympics, Australia, which has less than 2 per cent of the global population, sent the fifth largest team.
We sent around 410 athletes. The top four nations are the United States (555), Brazil (465), Germany (425) and China (416). It is Australia’s equal fifth largest team after Sydney (632), Athens (482), Beijing (436) and Atlanta (425).
It shouldn’t be too hard to find some areas to cut costs. Seriously.
Pic sourced from http://media.olympics.com.au/collection/london-2012-synchro-swimming/athlete/olga-burtaev.
If you’re from the the AOC and claiming copyright, please email. Allowing use of this pic is literally the least you can do.