Bad news for Team GB: eight sports have had their funding slashed ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
They're all relatively minor sports, but the cuts are major enough: water polo is losing half of its budget and shooting will be forced to scale down from 46 funded athletes to 10. Several teams, including water polo, may be forced to pull out of the 2012 Olympics, scuppering the Government's plans to field athletes in every...field.
Well, that's not good, is it? Especially after Britain's success in the Beijing Olympics last year. I can see a lot of people being disappointed with this - and not just the athletes. The British public has fallen in love with the idea of hosting the Olympics, and knowing their own country won't be able to compete in some events will be a major blow to morale. Also, the UK was given the Olympics on the basis it would be cheap - much cheaper than Beijing. I don't think withdrawing their own team was the idea they had in mind.
It's easy to say this kind of disappointment is inevitable in a recession, and to an extent it is, but that's not the direct reason for this. No - it's a £50m funding shortfall. Yeah. OK, enough beating around the bush: the Government failed to raise ANY MONEY AT ALL from the private sector. Not a single penny. Nothing. At. All.
So yes, indirectly the economy's general downward spiralling motion is arguably to blame because private companies aren't happy to be chucking about money at the moment, and certainly not into the training of younger athletes, contributing in turn to national success (much better to invest in Iceland, eh?).
But ultimately, the Government itself must take some responsibility for failing to marshal the private sector into investing in Britain's sporting future. I don't know quite what its level of campaigning was, but clearly it wasn't enough.
I know one thing, though: taxpayers will not be happy. Reading The Metro tomorrow morning on the bus to work, I can see them choking on their Nutri-Grains reading about how private business has let them down once again. "Why should we pay the money if they don't?", they'll ask. I don't think taxes will rise as a result of the funding shortfall - too unpopular, even with the excitement over the Games - but it's not going to help public attitudes towards companies that many see as having helped to land Britain in this economic mess in the first place. Class war, here we come: public vs. private sector. Now that's sport.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Bad news for Team GB: eight sports have had their funding slashed ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
I picked up on two stories in the Metro with similar themes: animal rights.
The first was the story of a sniffer dog who has sadly died of nasal cancer (quite a rare form). It is thought that seven years of sniffing out class A drugs might have contributed to his doggy demise. Still, it's a dog's life etc. etc.
I don't really have much of a point here except to predict that animal rights charities will soon be campaigning for the rights of police dogs to do only a limited amount of work. It'll happen, believe me.
And on the subject of animal rights, PETA have had an advert for, uh, vegetables banned on account of its raunchiness. Quite what the charity is trying to do with this advert is beyond me, since their focus is usually on the alleged immorality of eating meat. Here, they are trying to make vegetables sexy, with questionable results. See for yourself. Myself....I'm not convinced.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Chris 'Controversy' Moyles is in trouble again after making inappropriate jokes about Auschwitz and Will Young (not in the same reference, by the way). The BBC has said it "regrets" the comments. Again.
It's becoming increasingly hypocritical the way the BBC condemns comments made by Moyles et al yet does nothing to stop them happening. Surely no one takes their 'regret' seriously. And in this case, no one should.
As far as I can work out, Moyles said nothing especially offensive. The Will Young reference ("It's my birthday; gonna wear my new dress tonight") is tantamount to no more than a crap joke; it is perhaps slightly homophobic, but only pathetically so and I can't imagine Will Young upsetting himself about it. He's gay - doesn't have feelings (joking).
Auschwitz is, surprisingly, something of a touchy subject for comedy, but in this case Chris Moyles wasn't even trying to be funny. He just made a good point:
Unlike a lot of the Who Do You Think You Are? shows I didn't go to Auschwitz ... pretty much everybody goes there, whether or not they're Jewish... they always kind of end up there, you know, if they just pass through on their way to Florida or something.
Where's the offence there? Please point me to it. It's very true that Who Do You Think You Are? has something of an Auschwitz obsession, because it provides fascinating history - the point of the programme, surely (no one actually cares if Kriss Akabusi had Scottish ancestry). Who cares if the only link a celebrity has to Auschwitz is that their grandmother's cousin's flatmate was half-Jewish? It's more interesting than their Aunt Noreen, who was a homemaker in Bury St. Edmunds all her life and once brushed past a young Des O'Connor.
Anyway, Moyles said absolutely nothing offensive, but as per, he and the BBC will have to apologise because they said the special word. Auschwitz.
Next time, complainants need to focus on what is actually being said. Stop. Look. Listen.
And shut up.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Just a quick one, then, before it all kicks off and America welcomes its new President.
Here is a generator to predict Barack Obama's inauguration speech. You enter random words where it tells you to, and works out a speech for you. It's great fun, and in places, strangely accurate given you are entering words without knowing where they'll be going.
Here's mine, if you're interested. "Green and famous challenges" aside, it's eerily close to what the real thing could be and also, really quite amusing - especially the final paragraph.
My fellow Americans, today is a happy day. You have shown the world that "hope" is not just another word for "change", and that "change" is not only something we can believe in again, but something we can actually do.
Today we celebrate, but let there be no mistake – America faces green and famous challenges like never before. Our economy is large. Americans can barely afford their mortgages, let alone have enough money left over for tables. Our healthcare system is nasty. If your heart is sick and you don't have insurance, you might as well call a journalist. And America's image overseas is tarnished like a underwear magazine. But doctoring together we can right this ship, and set a course for Hawaii.
Finally, I must thank my lovely family, my black campaign volunteers, but most of all, I want to thank Hillary Clinton for making this historic occasion possible. Of course, I must also thank you, President Bush, for years of messing the American people. Without your white efforts, none of this would have been possible.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
So, it looks like Kaka may be coming to Manchester City. The quest for world domination continues.
First, though, they need to dominate the Premiership, and before that they need to stay in it. Clearly City aren't going to go down because they're too good, and I know I've said that before about Leeds and other teams, but City really are. No team with Robinho gets relegated to the Championship.
But they do need to start winning matches on a regular basis, because although they're in a state of flux while they bring these big names in - the point being that it's not strange to see a player like Robinho or Kaka join a smaller team like City because with unlimited funds, they WILL be one of the biggest clubs in the world sooner or later - they need to secure a decent league position to give hope to their players. Robinho isn't going to listen to excuses of "a changing team" if they finish 12th.
They can buy everyone they want, but first they need to concentrate on the players they have. Unite the players they've got and start winning matches. That's what their rivals Manchester United do, and that's why - annoyingly - they're so good. There's no future like the present.
That all said, I can't wait to see Kaka in the Premiership.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Oh BBC, when will you learn? After many previous examples of ambiguous and misleading headlines on their news website, you'd think they'd pay a bit more attention to what they're writing. But then the point, I suppose, is to draw readers in, and nothing does that more than suggesting the First Lady of America wants to be in a porn movie.
This time it's global war, and President-elect Barack Obama's new approach to tackling Iran. Yes, approach. Not attack.
The BBC's headline is 'Obama promises new tack on Iran. Now read that at a glance and what does that look like? Yes. 'Obama promises new attack on Iran'. Now that's a very different thing, and personally I think choosing such an easily misread word is a tad irresponsible.
Think on, BBC. Think on.
Get a sense of humour, chaps.
By now, though, you do get the feeling that this would only happen to the Tory party.
And by the way, when I say "Get a sense of humour", I do of course mean the Tories, not Madeline's parents. I'm not their biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I think they can be forgiven for not finding it very funny.
Saturday, 3 January 2009
So, Matt Smith has defied all predictions to be named the next Doctor. If your reaction was anything other than "Who?", then you're either a shrewd telly addict, a Doctor Who insider or lying. Smith's announcement came out of nowhere.
But one aspect isn't such a surprise: the new Doctor's age.
A return to the older Doctors of...old was mooted, but it was always going to go the other way. Doctor Who has always been a children's/family programme, and so the target audience is clearly children. And I don't know whether it's a recent phenomenon, but these days children prefer younger role models: less of the cool dad of Jon Pertwee or the mad perverted uncle of Tom Baker, and more David Tennant or his young sidekicks – people they can imagine themselves being.
And as such, it's natural for the producers of Doctor Who to choose a younger face. Matt Smith is only 26, and/but looks young enough for children to model themselves on him.
He's also quite posh – my online journalism blog has an interesting discussion relating to this – and therefore all set up to be much-loved by mums.
In short, he's the Blue Peter choice: someone the kids can idolise as a character and watch as an actor in CBBC interviews. I don't want to call him the safe option, because that would be naïve given my little knowledge of his style or what he'll bring to the role – plus the safe option would presumably be someone better-known and with more screen experience – but he is certainly the sensible choice for the BBC to make. He's young, and he's going to get people talking.
I keep hearing that the next Doctor will be Paterson Joseph. And I keep insisting I don't know who this person is, and that as good as it is to have a relative unknown playing such a famous role, it's important that they are at least a rising star (even though they're generally quite old), as Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant were. I mean, Paterson Joseph? Who the hell is that?
Then I found out, just now, that he's Alan Johnson in Peep Show. He's bloody brilliant. I am now very excited - well, as much as I can be about a children's TV show that I watch only from time to time - about the prospect of his being the first black Doctor (uh, in Doctor Who terms, that is, not in general medicine). He's a great actor and I think he could add something new, just as David Tennant - truly one of the best - did.
Joseph's the favourite, but he's not in the TARDIS just yet. The announcement is coming at 5.35pm today, in a programme called Doctor Who Confidential (presumably not all that confidential) on BBC1.
Let me know your thoughts.