so the world cup is finished. wimbledon is over. cricket and rugby league are still going on. the football season is just around the corner.
this weekend saw nearly a half million people run a mile in the sports relief charity.
this weekend also saw a major uk athletics championship take place.
radio 5 live were covering it and were talking about the future of athletics in the uk. of course most of the chat was not so much about the next couple of years leading up to bejing and 2008 olympics but the 2012 london olympics (which i now believe was given to london so that it could mark the official opening of the new wembley stadium). as the event wore on the talk was about central contracts and the control that this gave the athletic authority over the athletes. in short the contract means that the athletes get paid and in doing so they have to compete where they are told to compete and when they are told to compete (i am sure that within that there is a certain amount of latitude). on the one side you have athletes who don't want to sign it because they want to compete where and when they want, on the other there are the athletes who realise that it is guaranteed money.
if it is one thing that athletics is it is awash with cash for those who are considred elite.
one of the things that the central contracts bring home is that this is money provided by the state and that in fact these athletes are in fact public servants. albeit ones who can go to train in sunny resorts when it suits them, who can earn a tidy sum on the grand prix circuit and still expect someone else to pay for their training.
meanwhile andrew muray, the future of british - no i mean scotish - tennis is looking to employ a coach at the tune of £500,000 a year, i'll repeat that a half million pound a year for the coach (who i suspect will not be paying for his accomodation when he travels with the player..) now muray is not expecting to pay that out of his own pocket he is expect the lawn tennis association to stump up some cash for him. true the lta can afford it, but what is the betting that some of that money will be state funded?
the question is why are we so quick to want to give money to a few elite sportsmen and women so that they can live the life of larry and if they are lucky and talented earn a small fortune? why is it normally the individual performers we care so much about?
is it because we think that footballers can make a fortune if they are good enough and get into a major team? is it the same for those who want to play rugby or basketball.
do we have some sort of romantic notion that the individual athletes are some how amatuer and so need the help?
frankly it galls me that so much money can be thrown at a few athletes and seemingly there is no need for them to deliver.
my life is not enriched by the performances of these sportsmen and women, it is true that i might get excited during an event and be rooting for the boys and girls in the red white and blue, but win lose or draw i will still be having to pay my mortgage, go into work the next morning and deal with the fact i am a bit of a bloater.
the annoying irony of it is that someone who will actually make a difference to the world i live in will have to take a loan out and will have to be crippled with debt for a few years. so you have to feel for the student nurses, doctors and teachers.
art students are probably the "academic" equivalent of sports, they are pursuing an individual goal that they hope will bring them fame and fortune. but art students have to take out the loan, they have to find work and they have to pay it back. if you are half way decent at sport you get a pass on the loan, and you have a chance to earn good money.
this is a debate that will continue up until 2012 (at least), me i say let athletes take out a loan, give them so many years to prove themselves if at the end of it they haven't no more loans, and then like regular students they have to start paying it back, (or a percentage of it). if they are successful athletes their funding can be cut back and they can pay for their own training and they can begin to pay back the loans they have had to get them to that point.
i see no reason why they should be treated any differently from other students.