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Tomorrow belongs to Boris

Who let’s be fair he is hardly an Adonis. But then neither is Lord Adonis. He sounds like a wrestler or porn star. He looks like this. The only six pack he ever got was from the offie.

But moves are afoot to expand school sports after the storming successes of Team GB*. Sorry I can’t buy it. Surely the success of the likes of Hoy and Ennis and all the rest is enough to promote sport in this country or indeed that sport is doing rather well anyway. It ‘s just more pointless and somewhat sinister meddling.

In a book by the military historian John Keegan (I forget which book) he writes movingly of the pals units of the Great War. And how they were recruited. Obviously the slaughter of the Somme and all the other battles is tragic enough but there is another point – Britain was shot through with societies and clubs and all manner of voluntary organisations. Obviously this included huge numbers of sporting clubs. That’s where the pals came from. Outside the Royal Academy in London there is a memorial to the London Artists’ Rifles for example. Sport and much else flourished without the state.

With the state it is the grim ordeal of PE lessons. I recall them well. I hated rugby for a very simple reason. At no point did a PE teacher ever explain the outline of the game or why were doing this or that. Being from the North East which is very much a football area (soccer for American readers) I was clueless. Then in the summer there was a round-robin of athletics. Utterly pointless. Since I haven’t been conscripted into sport I enjoy it much more. And I am far from alone here. There was a study out recently that showed a majority of girls hated school PE. Annecdotally I’d say that probably applies to boys as well. So essentially enforced physical jerks is actually counter productive. And yet now we shall have more for the glory of the nation! On a not dissimilar note I wonder how many army officers want to bring-back national service?

This ought to be the strategy for Britain’s continued success at sport. The government gets out of the game. A start might be a change to the CRB rules which assume you are a paedophile until proven otherwise. Then you’ll get the volunteers. That’s a start that would cost less than zero.

*Am I the only one who hates that term?


  1. 1327 says:

    Excellent post that reminded me of the horror that were PE lessons. Two hours a week of utter pointlessness that instilled in me a total hatred of organised sport. If the government really wants to encourage British sport they should ban PE totally. Sack the PE teachers and sell the sports fields to Barratts for houses or British Nuclear Fuels for spent fuel storage.

    Looking back at it though the schoolmates who used to hang about with me trying to be where ever the rugby ball wasn’t are the successes (a deputy chief constable , owner of a estate agency firm , head of IT in a bank and a property developer) from a pretty crappy comprehensive. While the b*stard who was full of team spirit and always yelling at his classmates for not wanting to get involved in scrums is a convicted kiddy fidler (little girls surprisingly).

    Incidentally an ex of mine avoided PE for two years. Twice a week for two years she told the (male) moron of a PE teacher that she was having her period this week and couldn’t take part ! Amazingly he never once questioned this or told her that perhaps she should see her GP.

  2. Talwin says:

    * No.

  3. VftS says:

    * , I’m with Talwin.
    I’ve wondered since the first time I saw it, which team do athletes from Northern Ireland run/jump/play/etc for?

  4. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “And I am far from alone here”

    Indeed you are not. Enforced rugby in the late 1970′s in Wales was my idea of hell. Try still singing soprano and tackling kids with beards; tricky. Add to that the psycho PE teacher tackling you far, far too hard on a freezing cold January afternoon on a windswept playing field.

    It wasn’t until four years after I left that I discovered a sport I actually liked.

  5. Henry Crun says:

    I know what you mean, NickM. I went to an all boys high school in South Africa where it was compulosory to play rugby at U13 level. And I hated it. For the same reasons you did – the game and its rules weren;t properly explained. The SA-born lads had an inkling but the immigant boys (English, Portuguese etc) didn’t have a clue and we were derided for it. This is a great pity because I now love watching and often think that I may have been a half decent player at scrum- or flyhalf.

    As sports was compulsory I switched to field hockey and loved it. Mainly because the techer in charge was an e-international player and was able to impart the basic techniques and play.

  6. NickM says:

    Precisely. I had no appreciation of rugby until the ’95 World Cup and that was because I lived with a pretty decent player who talked me through a match. I don’t actually recall playing a game at school. We just did set-pieces. I suppose I could have got a book from a library but there was no incentive. So thanks to Andy for explaining. It bloody says something when a medical student can achieve more in 80 minutes than a PE teacher can in 5 years.

  7. CountingCats says:

    And there are kids who hated maths, and there ones who hated history, and some hated English……

    Should all of these also have been optional?

    Being one who hated all of these things, and PE as well, I look back and thank all involved that I was not allowed to pick and choose at an age when I was not fit to make the choice.

    That something may have , at times, and in places, been taught badly does not make it wrong to have taught it at all.

  8. John Galt says:

    RE: TeamGB:

    Forgive my Manx Gaelic, but Team GB can go and Paag my hoyn.

    Before the games kicked off we have loads of Daily Mail readers bitching about how Team GB includes various non-UK team members who were getting the benefit of being in Team GB without having to pay the taxes for it (e.g. Mark Cavendish, Peter Kennaugh, etc.).

    I’ve put up with their shit by saying, them’s the rules put up by the IOC and agreed by the UK parliament.

    Then Peter Kennaugh wins the Gold and we were all thinking, not bad for an island that has roughly the same population as Gateshead, Tyne and Wear (around 80,000).

    If the Daily Mail whiners had their way, then the Isle of Man would have appeared alongside the other dependencies under their own flags and Team GB would be down a couple of medals including at least one Gold.

  9. Thornavis says:

    - Britain was shot through with societies and clubs and all manner of voluntary organisations. Obviously this included huge numbers of sporting clubs. That’s where the pals came from.

    Amidst all the bollocks we’ve been getting recently about private school privilege and lack of competition in state schools I’ve been waiting for someone to make this point. It’s a complete myth that we used to get our sports people via the early experience they got at school, clubs and self organised activity by kids themselves was how it happened. It’s laughable really all the usual middle class types from all parts of the political spectrum with their total lack of knowledge about working class life, don’t they know that before the fifties state schools rarely had playing fields ? As the number of people taking part in clubs and societies has declined so the Private Schools have come to represent a larger percentage of sportsmen and women, this will probably even happen to Football eventually.
    I don’t buy the argument that school sport is a worthwhile activity for its own sake or that is somehow the same as subjects like maths and history. I hated sport at school and I loathed maths too, for the same reason, I was utterly hopeless at both and got no encouragement to be any better. However in later years some friends and I formed our own cricket team, we were terrible but it was a good experience – usually ! You can’t do that with maths, you need to be properly taught by someone who cares about the subject, it’s not a DIY activity and if schools don’t teach it properly it really matters.

  10. Without decent coaching school sport often is a waste of time. Encouraging physical activity however is not. Keeping teenagers sitting on their arses all day is not a good idea for all sorts of reasons, not just to do with health.

    School sport in the UK however remains inward looking whereas in the US school and college games seem to get wide support from the local community. Encouraging local support would go a long way to making people realise that they can’t hand over their kids to the school and then wash their hands of them. Involving the community in school sports could also be a useful first step towards local responsibility for education proper.

  11. RAB says:

    Last night’s Newsnight had the usual suspects on whinging about the Olympics. The lack of medals? Hell no, but the TYPE of them. One half of that wonderful British Comedy duo, Abbott and Portillo turned up (though what Diane knows about sport beyond Putting the Sticky Toffee Pudding, is beyond me) and the thrust was that we were winning all the wrong medals and they were being won by the wrong people. That is in sports that only the middle and upper classes can afford to indulge in, and only Public schools teach. Poor Old bog Comp Wayne, Winston, Charleen and Tracy will never get a go at The Equestrian or the Yachting. And therefore the sub text was that nobody should. Leftie perverseness at it’s best.

    That is bollocks of course. I had a friend who fell in love with horses and wanted to ride and compete. Unlike my farmer’s son cousins who had land and horses at their disposal, he lived in a semi in the suburbs and had to travel miles to muck out, groom and feed his horse every day before he even got to ride it. But he loved it and used to compete in Gymkanas (spelin?) and sometimes won. No he didn’t end up at the Olympics, but he did what he wanted to do, we all can, it’s not just down to our school to provide it all on a plate for us.

    Now unlike the rest of you (it seems) I was naturally good at Sport, and therefore enjoyed it. I was 100m champion of my Junior School, opening bat for the cricket team, Centre, Wing or Full Back at rugby (yes this was Wales, they did explain the rules- and how to get around them too!) and did a mean 100m freestyle swimming. But I never took “Games” seriously, perhaps because I was good at them. The serious bit of Grammar School happened in the classroom as far as I was concerned, Sport was just a Pastime surely? I never even for a moment thought of making a career of it.

    But coming to Nick’s point on clubs and Societies, the three sports I really excelled in, Swimming, Table Tennis and Golf, I learnt in clubs and societies, nothing to do with my school or the State whatsoever. So yes Nick, the State should get out of Sport altogether. Look what happens and happened in the maniac Communist states (our system is so perfect we can even beat you at Underwater Tiddlewinks!).

    There’s nothing wrong in the old Prof Arnold of Rugby school’s credo of a healthy mind in a healthy body, just let’s not push it into farming children from the age of five to be instuments of glorification for assholes who look like buttered potato’s (Boris and iDave, Putin and Kim Il Cheeseburger) it’s just not worth it, it’s only “Games” after all ;-)

  12. Tim Newman says:

    I was hopeless at PE because I lacked speed, strength, and coordination. I might have become a passable cross-country runner because I had stamina, but nothing competitive. But I didn’t mind PE a lot of the time because I tried pretty hard and the classes were usually split into 2: serious players and the also-rans. So whilst the serious players were being shouted at, the also-rans just got to play a fairly enjoyable game of mess-about rugby, or something. We generally enjoyed ourselves.

    Why I am glad we were made to try all sports is because now I am pretty fit (for 35) and I understand sports much more, I do not sit and think “Jeez, I bet I’d have been good at that when I was younger if I’d had the right coaching.” Because I tried everything and had no natural talent whatsoever. If for nothing else, compulsory PE will identify those who might have enough talent to use it, and show the others that their best route to success lies elsewhere. I can now enjoy watching sport – lots of it – knowing that I gave it all my best shot years ago, and was crap at it. I’d hate to discover I could have been really good at something 10 years too late.

  13. Westerlyman says:

    Why worry about Team GB as a name. People win medals, not countries, and I have tremendous respect for anyone who has the dedication required to achieve even entry into the Olympics let alone a medal. But that is what I admire, the individuals. I couldn’t care less about the posturing politicians and their dupes and people comparing a country’s medal table against other countries. That is all utterly meaningless.

    The Chinese have loads of medals and I have absolutely no respect for the country and I pity most of the individuals forced through their inhumane sports factories. That a regime like China puts so much effort into trying to look ‘the best’ in the international arena speaks volumes about how sick their society is. Do we British really want to emulate that? Unfortunately politicos will do anything so they can sit in reflected glory. Another reason to despise most of those who seek public office.

  14. Andrew Duffin says:

    “Team GB” isn’t even accurate. It should be “Team UK”, since it includes Northern Ireland as well. And also, that would wind Alex Salmond up even more, which cannot be a bad thing.

    On the main point, it would help if the existing rules were followed: when “they” decided to demolish our ice rink to build a supermarket, hundreds of people pointed out that it had been built with a huge donation of public money which had been given on the condition that it stayed open, and open to the public, for a certain minimum number of hours each week for the next twenty years. This condition was openly ignored, the building was duly demolished, and nobody asked the “owners” to pay back the funding.

    A not uncommon story I would guess.

  15. John Galt says:

    @Andrew Duffin:

    Sorry, but “Team UK” wouldn’t work either, unless you are going to eject the team members from outside the UK along with their medals (including at least one Gold).

    The reason why “Team GB” is so named is that it includes numerous team members who are British Citizens (in law at least) that come from UK Crown Dependencies, Territories and other remnants of Royal and Imperial ownership.

  16. UK gets confused with Ukraine – GB is the recognised international designation for this country – formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for all sorts of purpses. It isn’t a conspiracy folks – just a convenience.

  17. Lynne says:


  18. RAB says:

    By the way, I really hope tomorrow DOESN’T belong to Boris. Clever, devious, intensely egotistical, and bone idle. Do not be fooled by the clown act, for that is all it is.

    Why the hell doesn’t Dan Hannan run for the real Parliament? There’s a seat up for grabs, now that one of Cameron’s Cuties has flounced off to New York.

  19. John Galt says:

    Why the hell doesn’t Dan Hannan run for the real Parliament? There’s a seat up for grabs, now that one of Cameron’s Cuties has flounced off to New York.

    Because being a Euro-MP pays much better in salary, expenses and pension than being an MP and includes First Class flights to Europe, better food and better weather.

    If I had a choice, then I take the European option as well and I want out of the EU as much as anybody.

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