Friday, February 16, 2007

This sporting life

I couldn't care less how many medals Great Britain wins at the London Olympics, or anywhere else for that matter, although I do care that they are driving a bulldozer through local communities against their will and erecting huge one-use structures and then calling it green.

Every year we are told of the lack of resources put into sports (thus leading to our crumby tally of victories at cricket, tennis, running, jumping, et al) just because the government doesn't spend a fraction of the petty cash of a donkey sanctuary on promoting sports in schools, but prefer to sell off the playing fields instead.

But the fact is we've become more and more passive about our activities, expecting the government to stump up for stuff we can get on and make happen ourselves anyway.

The Ramblers Association may have a mild reputation today but it was founded on militant activity in the teeth of the interests of the land owners and was even willing to organise mass trespasses to fight for their right for a bit of fresh air and a bracing stroll.

The left in Britain, like its counter parts across the world, organised into groups like the British Workers Sports Federation to build a network of cultural groups which could combine a radical political outlook with healthy exercise or simply provide a vehicle for common interests among working class people who were denied other ways of accessing sporting facilities.

Of course, the government should not be selling off state owned playing fields or allowing private companies into our schools but we can't hang around waiting for them to do things for us either. There's nothing stopping anyone forming their own Frisbee circle, pro-cycling propaganda group, mass cycle rides, cheer leading or any other form of urban fitness you can think of - and I for one think it's this kind of project, rather than whining about the government, that can teach us lessons about self activity leading to emancipation.

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