A Question Of Funds

19 August 2012

So the Olympic Games have come and gone without a word being mentioned here.  If you’ve read my blog more than once, you’ll probably know that sport and I are not happy bedfellows.  As usual I didn’t watch one event, except for those I couldn’t avoid because they made the normal news bulletins.

At times like this, because I’m a dual citizen (Australian/British), I’m often asked which team I support.  The answer is very easy.  I don’t support either of them. 

HOWEVER, I’m very sorry that Australian didn’t win more gold medals, as the result of this will be a demand for more funds from the Australian tax payer.  Apparently, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia has spent over $310 million in the last four years on the training of these sportsmen and women (and Britain spent $390m in the same period).  In Australia’s case this means that every medal (of every hue) has cost us about $10 million. 

Of course I have no objection to public money being spent on sport, any more than I object to its being spent on libraries, museums and art galleries.  Provide the sports-loving public with playing fields and swimming pools.  But don’t invest very hefty sums of money in the elite of the sporting world while selling off school playing-fields and parks to property developers.  And don’t invest it at the cost of the arts and sciences which have an equal right to public funds.  

Why do we still continue with the notion that the calibre of a country can be judged by the number of medals won?  This was the thinking of the Eastern bloc countries.  Did we all rush to move to East Germany because we were in awe of their gymnasts and thought it must be a wonderful country to live?  No, of course not.  The number of medals won is pretty much in direct proportion to the amount of money a country is willing to spend, with a few notable exceptions where an athlete possesses such amazing natural skills that s/he rises above the meagre training facilities and lack of sponsorship.

I’m much more impressed that Australia has a disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners.  And I’m NOT impressed that the Queensland Premier, on his election earlier this year, abolished the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award, saving $225,000 (which equates to 2.25% of an Olympic medal.) 

Strange priorities.    

PS:  And I’m sure there are more knitters in this country than people who play competitive sport (including the Prime Minister).  Public funding for us, please. 


  1. Hear, hear! We’re having the same debate here. This week we’ve learned that school playing fields are being sold off at a rate even higher than we thought. I hated organised games at school, but it’s good to have a place where children can leave their X-boxes behind, run around and let off steam.

    If I’m to be at all chauvinistic, did you know that Yorkshire (the county of my birth), had it been a country in its own right, would have been 12th on the medal table? At one point it was THIRD! And very nice and gracious people the winners were, too. The Post Office has painted a post box in gold for each of them in their respective home towns.

  2. I’m not from Australia, but I’d vote for public funding for knitting, or even public knitting funding. Our sad state of affairs has politicians borrowing money from different funds to finance the things they are interested in. Unfortunately, now our schools are out of money because their great ideas didn’t generate the money to pay the funds back. I think when a person becomes a politician there is some cosmic devil that wipes out any common sense they might have had.

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