For quite a while now I have been calling on UK Sport to re-open the debate about what we fund in what has become known as the ‘No Compromise’ model.
I fully understand how and why UK Sport have found themselves in the position of pursuing and defending No Compromise (although of course life is full of compromise – so lots of sports have been compromised by this methodology). But we got here because quite rightly in the build up to 2012 we had to fund our home team to be the best they could at the Games in London.
I was fortunate to be involved in the process – working between the DCMS and Treasury (where by then I was a PPS in the Treasury Team). I saw what Peter Keen was predicting we could do with the right amount of money – deliver 65 medals in 2012 (his 2006 prediction!) Of course we went on to win 65 medals.
Of course in 2012 we also had a wider range of Olympic sports to support as we had to make sure the likes of Volleyball and Handball, where we hadn’t qualified before could do a reasonable job. We achieved that with most sports. We know that it’s generally an eight year journey to the podium and a team sport needs a system and consistency.
We also agreed to concentrate on the Olympics in the build up to 2012. It meant focussing all our effort on the Olympic Sports. And as things have become tougher and the No Compromise has also become tougher there have been some hard decisions for a number of team sports to take.
My biggest concern after the 2012 Olympics was that we never really had this debate or consultation in sport and certainly not in public. It may be that the sports world accepts that we can only fund a small number of sports – but should it be purely on a narrow range that deliver medals because we can afford to outspend our rivals or sports where participation and a talent pathway are important. It was great to deliver dressage medals and there were amazing viewing figures for the event – but what is the worth to the nation of a dressage medal and how do we measure that? It is more important that we have this debate and air these concerns and that the case made by basletball is taken in the round and not just from a UK Sport perspective. In fact this is the greatest weakness. We do not have sport policy which joins Pre school to elite via school and community participation! if we did we could hold this debate in a much clearer way with specific outcomes to measure our inputs against. I am not sure we have even articulated recently why we fund sport. I think we should. But I also think we should be clear about our objectives and priorities.
At the Sport & Recreation Alliance we have an opportunity to marshall the sports outside the Olympics who have a view and via the Sports Think Tank we can say things about good policy without a membership or constituency to represent. I am looking forward to this being an open and honest debate!