There will be no golden legacy

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - World Of Sport - Chief sports writer Alan Swann shares his views

How pre­dictable the sug­ges­tion that Olympic medals will lead to a legacy of in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion in mi­nor­ity sports. Ap­par­ently there will now be a flood of young girls tak­ing up hockey af­ter Great Bri­tain’s for­tu­nate (in the fi­nal at least) gold medal per­for­mance in Rio

It’s a lovely thought, es­pe­cially with obe­sity stats among young folk creep­ing ever up­wards, but it won’t hap­pen, cer­tainly not over a de­cent pe­riod of time.

Just like there wasn’t much of an in­crease in rugby union par­tic­i­pa­tion af­ter Eng­land won the 2003 World Cup de­spite pre­dic­tions to the con­trary.

Us pa­tri­ots watch any­thing/ any­one in a GB vest in the Olympics, but in the four years in be­tween we for­get about hockey, div­ing, cy­cling and gym­nas­tics and watch pop­u­lar sports in­stead.

Can any­one re­mem­ber who wins the medals at the world cham­pi­onships in the above sports?

You prob­a­bly can’t be­cause, while na­tional news­pa­pers and broad­cast­ers love to act as cheer­lead­ers at an Olympics, they know their au­di­ence has dif­fer­ent de­mands for the rest of the time.

World cy­cling and row­ing medals are wor­thy, but re­ports oc­cupy a spare para­graph be­cause foot­ball, cricket, rugby union and even horse rac­ing re­main the sport­ing kings in the UK.

It’s the ba­sic eco­nomic law of sup­ply and de­mand. Fill the Daily Mail full of hockey re­ports and I’d stop buy­ing it.

I’m more in­ter­ested in Liver­pool’s left-back prob­lem than which of Great Bri­tain’s win­ning hockey team is head­ing to play in a Dutch League next sea­son.

It’s sad per­haps, but a ba­sic truth.

I watched ex­cit­edly as GB goalie Mad­die Hinch de­fied Nether­lands’ bril­liant at­tack­ing play­ers to seal the first ladies hockey gold and cel­e­brated when Hol­lie Webb (right, with Hinch) scored the win­ning penalty, but if the coun­tries played each other again next week I wouldn’t switch it on.

The Olympics has a mys­ti­cal hold on this coun­try, es­pe­cially now we don’t ac­cept a soli­tarty medal in a road-walk­ing event as be­ing a de­cent re­turn.

We’d all prob­a­bly watch snail-rac­ing if it be­came an Olympic sport, as long as one of the mol­luscs was kit­ted out in a GB shirt. To be hon­est snail-rac­ing would be far more ex­cit­ing to watch than the tae kwon do, horse danc­ing and sail­ing events.

No, the only legacy from any Olympics will be a huge debt and a plethora of crum­bling, un­fit-for-pur­pose sta­dia for the host­ing city.

The ‘I am Team GB’ initiative is ad­mirable and I hope they achieve their am­bi­tion of in­creas­ing sports par­tic­i­pa­tion, but I fear they are back­ing a loser, un­less all UK schools can be per­suaded to do a bit more.

Once the Premier League foot­ball sea­son is in full swing in­ter­est in hockey and even Tom Da­ley will nose­dive.

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