Thursday, October 22, 2009

I prefer to get my humiliation for free, thanks

The Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey says that any cutbacks to the government largess that his sports currently receive will mean that "[w]e’ll have a humiliating Games, and that will be a disaster for the country." A disaster for the country.

We're up to our eyeballs in debt, classrooms are bursting at the seems, health care is being rationed and the unemployment lines are now being measured in KM (much like the gaps between the Irish middle distance runners and the race leaders in recent Olympic games), but if the government decides to cut the amount it spends on supporting professional (& I don't care if they're even semi-professional) athletes. I can live with the humiliation of not seeing Irish medal winners at the '12 & '16 games.

And speaking of that 'humiliation', what exactly has been achieved by the OCI over the past decade or more? Well, Michelle Smith won a bunch of golds. No humiliation there. Right? Oh yeah, we had a gold in show jumping thanks to Cian O'Connor on Waterford Crystal, but, well, that didn't end up right when the horse tested positive for a banned substance and O'Connor was stripped of his gold. No humiliation there.

Look, the only Olympic sport that might merit the money from the government is boxing. Why? Because Olympic boxing is still strictly amateur and boxing keeps refusing to humiliate the nation the way other sports do.

The government should cut the sports funding and then redirect what's left towards real amateurs and, more importantly, school age sports, which provide a lot more benefits for society than the few who compete at the Olympic level.

That goes for the GAA, IRFU & FAI too. All that government money should go to providing facilities for as many people as possible, not for a privileged few.