Miniature Canadian flags for everyone (II) -

Miniature Canadian flags for everyone (II)


During the Olympics, the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee told an Australian reporter that we owed a great debt to Australia and what it has been doing for some years now to fund its Olympians. In that regard, it is probably worth reviewing the Crawford Report, an extensive study of Australian sport that raised all sorts of questions about pursuing Olympic success and has, subsequently, attracted all sorts of controversy. Among the problematic paragraphs contained therein, this.

A commonly held view is that success in international sport creates increased interest which translates into higher levels of participation at the grassroots. However, while Australia has been very successful at the last four olympics, there has also been a ‘blowout’ of adult and child obesity and little change in participation numbers in sport. According to survey data33 only 50 per cent of Australians participate ‘regularly’ in sport and physical activity. Nor does hosting major sporting events such as the olympic or commonwealth Games guarantee sustained increases in participation.


Miniature Canadian flags for everyone (II)

  1. Ok, so if we are going to stir up a calamidy of patriotic, Olympian fever among a population that is getting fatter and fatter, should we not at least order some really big flags so when the citizens start running about draped in said flag they are properly covered?

    • Snuggie flags, for the chic patriot.

    • Speaking as a humble and polite fat person, I stopped wearing flag clothing back in the sixties.

      Well, I did wear a flag pin for a few days while in Spain. Endured sneers until a
      sympathetic soul told me how much they hated Brian Tobin.

  2. Well, I agree that hosting events doesn't guarantee sustained increases in participation.

    But as I've said elsewhere, widely-reported success in major international sporting events does contribute to an acute bump in participation rates, just as January (resolution season) and May (bikini season) result in increased membership uptake at fitness centres.

    Sustaining the participation is about creating activities that will have broad appeal (and individual propensity to continue, regardless of what the grassroots organization does). But you can't sustain participation that doesn't exist – getting them in the door is step 1. Not funding sports on the argument that we can't sustain participation expects putting cart before horse.

    • Your argument amounts to: "trust me, it'll work eventually". Entirely specious.

      Aaron has presented research that indicates it doesn't work. Your evidence?

      Further, what evidence do you have indicating that a marginal dollar spent in support of elite athletes is better than that same dollar in support of health education, youth sport, or health care?

      Elite sport funding is about politics nothing more, nothing less.

      • A quick googling suggests that there is lots of scholarly evidence to support that sports participation helps to reduce risky behaviours – eg smoking, early intercourse, drug use, and alcoholism – among youth and teens. What's more, regular physical activity promotes an overall healthy lifestyle, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses. There are a couple of studies that go further to suggest that sports participation is the most significant factor in reducing high-risk behaviour (admittedly, I'm not totally sold on that last point, but I'll have to read the full article to see).

        Elite sport funding allows our athletes to train the way that their sport requires – intensely and full-time – and in so doing allows them the opportunity to perform better than if they have to hold down three jobs in addition to their training. When they perform better and we win medals at events like the Olympics, that captures the popular imagination, and that inspires thousands of kids to try something new, boosting, at least temporarily, participation rates.

    • Actually, I argue that sustaining the participation is more about sustaining the promotion of the activity. I found it a really salient point that I think it was Kyle Hamilton argued back in the 2008 Olympics.. they're working, practicing and participating in events every year, yet we really only focus on them every four years.

      Success doesn't matter if nobody hears about it.

      Which brings me back to my can-con post in the othe thread. Make sporting events with Canadian athletic participation count as can con, and higher-placement provides additional Can-con time to the station. Then we'll start hearing about Canadian successes in all kinds of things.

      • Thwim, I think that's a great idea. If only international sporting events could get the same ratings as Lost and House. Year over year, there are fewer international competitions of every sport except hockey shown on Canadian TV.

  3. It's a pet peeve of mine that funding is often justified on the basis of social and economic benefits for projects or causes, but then no one is accountable for producing (or even influencing) those benefits.

    For example, we often claim that recreation funding will improve activity levels and reduce youth crime and gangs, which certainly sounds possible and is supported somewhat by research, but then we ignore the social barriers to participation, tie funding to "functional" community clubs that are dominated by elite sports advocates in the suburbs and entirely fail to affect either gang involvement or the kind of widespread participation that would address sedentary lifestyles.

    If Own the Podium funding is going to be justified by its impact on youth involvement in activity, they need specific plans for doing that. Where is the strategy for tying the medal winning to more curlers and skates and skiers and boarders across the land?

    I'm not against the funding, just would like more than assumptions about spillover benefits.

  4. I think the Crawford Report draws a direct causal link between Olympics funding and sports participation, rather, he bases his conclusion on the fact that he can't find one.

    However, there may be other factors that relate to obesity and inactivity, for example, the economy.

    If one were to look at research links between sports funding and participation and performance in major sporting events, I think we should look at China, Korea, the United States and Germany as role models, before turning to Australia.

    I'd turn to Australia, however, to see how we can improve our swimming program.

    • "I'd turn to Australia, however, to see how we can improve our swimming program."

      Bring Canadian coaches back home, you mean?

  5. Gotta say I disagree with Lynn and some others about the spin-offs from funding elite athletics. Not that they are not there, but rather that they are not really the convincing argument for supporting elite athletes. The argument for funding elite (non-professional) athletics is largely the same as funding the arts or to some extent cultural events.

    There are lots of pedestrian needs that government must address but as a society we expect to do more than simply have a place to sleep and a full belly. As a result, many believe some small amount should go out to these other activities and events. Yes, even when some Canadians have neither a place to stay nor a full belly. If you believe we should not defer art, culture and athletics until the last disease is cured, the last homeless person is housed, then the obvious question is who should pay? Usually one expects a conservative to suggest user-pay or perhaps a public-private partnership. Clearly those gold medals have had a big impact.

    • My ideal policy is to have governments fund a national sport endowment fund, that pays stipends to A and B-card athletes so that they can train, compete, and be successful at the elite level. After a period of time, those A and B-card athletes will be high profile enough that the endowment fund draws enough private-sector funding that the government no longer needs to contribute.

      With the continuing success of athletes, and publication of said successes, more individuals will be drawn into recreational, and by extension, competitive sport. The national and grassroots sport organizations should be able to manage their local and development programs out of their membership fees (and if they can't, they're not charging enough). Any shortfall, and the NSOs can go to private sector entities and give them the (rather strong) selling point that they can sponsor a program from the ground up, and that whole other CSR selling point of not just being nice to people for the publicity.

      If government funding becomes long-term, athletes become government employees. That's not the ideal.

      • Would you have not-yet-super famous athletes sign over some of their potential future revenue from marketing etc.

        • Since so few B-carders get endorsement sponsorships, that's probably not a good idea – there's no telling what potential revenue is in the sport marketing world. Though, being an endowment fund, I don't see why individuals (athletic or not) couldn't contribute to it as well.

  6. (cont'd)…Strong grassroots programs – which shouldn't be federally funded, IMO – will help those kids continue in the sport if they so choose, if only recreationally.

    Broader participation is the ultimate goal – if we fund elite programs, the athletes are able to better perform. The idea is that from there, private corporations take over the elite programs (because the athletes are high profile and can offer great endorsements, without compromising their amateur status). At the same time, the broader public experiences a participation bump, and with strong grassroots programs, that participation is sustained, and health and education benefits continue.

  7. Yes, we want to give money so that our athletes will win more medals. How does this money improve the health of Canadians?