Seeing as it’s Super bowl weekend and six nations kick off I thought I would go with a sporting theme and delve a little into the world of football – UK and USA style. I thought I would talk a little about the money in sport; and is it fair? A fairly robust question so here goes.
In the UK we have a serious issue with a black hooded demon in the form of the premiership (football, or what folks over the pond call ‘soccer’) The premiership dominates every facet of sport in the UK, not just football, as every boy or girl with a bit of skill and some speed is picked up by football academies to see if they can mould their bit of skill sufficiently to feed the hungry monsters of the big clubs. With a few, they do, but for most they don’t and these youngsters, promised the world, find themselves dumped and left next to useless for anything else when they are found not good enough for the clubs to pick up.
It’s almost like a factory approach to talent, with the waste being people! Typically these youngsters, mostly boys, did not bother with their schooling, as they thought their future would be in football. So they are ill prepared for anything else. In addition, the other sports suffer as those with skills useful for football are taken away from others sports – and other sports are starved of funding as it is all poured into football. It’s not just football I am seeing this – it is beginning to creep into rugby with academies like Worcester popping up, tempting young lads away from home to a B &B existence and no real academic focus – knowing that the majority will be dumped by the time they are 18/19 – leaving these young lads, face down in the dust!
The issue in the UK is so poor compared to the United States, where sport is actually so much broader than we Brits think: with basketball, baseball, and American football – so more routes for the sporty kid to pursue as the States has three high-level sports that, for the most part, are viewed the same, and not one just dominates – which means the scouts do have to think a bit more about the young person. The college structure for sport enables them to develop as a person, not just be fodder for the one sport.
In the U.K. football dominates all other sports, even though we suck at it! We are hardly a World Cup contender – yet we allow this sport to damage the other sports -even those where we do have world contenders. This obsession with allowing football to take their pick means people can, and do, take advantage of kids, who at the end of the day just want to earn the big bucks of a footballer – someone mentioned to me that the UK should charge a sports tax on football which would go to fund the training of other sports, ones where we are in with a chance of competing on the world stage – athletics, cycling, tennis, and so on. Football is a commercial enterprise and awash with money. Too much is paid to the players, so they suck when it comes to representing their country, as they won’t play for honour – only money. So let’s use that money to fund where we do have men and women who play their sport for passion – and train hard, with little support, to represent their country. That is a smart solution to getting the huge sums of money washing around football to actually enable our Olympic hopes to be realised in a range of sports – and further develop our world standing in the sports we are good at.
So there you go, if you are a lover of football/soccer then you may think it is better than American football but the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of a much better system of development which isn’t crippling young people’s future, and the prospects for other sports, as much as the idiots running the premiership are. But who would be courageous enough to sort this out?
Go Wales in the six nations!! And I will be watching the super bowl and just enjoy the sport so will support whoever! -See you next week.