Securing Olympic legacy proves tricky task
The government has announced its new strategy to try to ensure a lasting sports participation legacy from the 2012 Games.
At first glance a five-year plan worth £1bn aimed at young people looks impressive.
But, as ever, things are not what they seem.
Sport England, who are in charge of the new programme, was always going to receive this money as the reduction in the number of National Lottery good causes - from five to four - had guaranteed them an extra £180m over the next five-year funding cycle.
The £450m allocated to sports governing bodies from 2013-17 is exactly the same amount as that given to them between 2009-13.
There is an extra £160m for improving and building new sports facilities. And there is more money for the School Games programme backed up by a £10m sponsorship from Sainsbury's.
But apart from the Sainsbury's money, all of this was budgeted for.
With so much pressure on the public finances it is hardly surprising that there is no new money being thrown at sport. In some ways, it is remarkable that sport has been able to hold on to what it has.
Will the London Olympics inspire young people to take up sport? Photo - PA
What is different, according to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, is the refocusing of the available resources - away from adults (a group which has seen an increase in participation since London won the right to stage the Games in 2005) towards teenagers and young people.
Here the statistics have been appalling. Since 2005 there has been a 2% drop among 16-19 year-olds, with a 100,000 decline in the last year alone.
To arrest that slide, Hunt wants Sport England and the governing bodies to focus their efforts and cash on getting youngsters who play sport at school and college to keep the habit after they leave formal education.
More money aimed at opening up school and college facilities to local clubs will help if the new programme can be made to work.
Withholding money from sports governing bodies unless they deliver on targets for getting young people to particpate in those sports will also help concentrate minds.
But so much of this is about changing cultural and social behaviour among young people. That is a far wider social issue and it starts in schools.
The problem, critics argue, is that last year's controversial decision to slash funding for school sports co-ordinators could do even greater damage to the legacy vision than the problem in youth sport which the government is now trying to address.
Then there is the difficulty of measuring the country's sporting habits.
The exisiting Active People survey is deeply flawed. Data is collected by researchers who call people on their home landlines.
I don't know about you but every time my home phone rings I ignore it, fearing it will be someone trying to sell me something.
How accurate is the information being gathered and should ministers be basing such critical spending decisions on it?
And even if the information is reliable, how do you measure if someone is sporty? Does playing football once a week compare with three half-hour sessions at the gym? Is walking a sport?
London 2012 chairman Seb Coe - the man who made the participation promises - is deeply cynical about the survey's findings, pointing to anecdotal evidence that we are getting more active.
That is only partly because every time the participation story comes up, he is reminded of the promises he made to the International Olympic Committee in Singapore in 2005.
After all, he is pretty much powerless to do anything about it as he has an Olympic Games to put on.
The government's new strategy is an acknowledgment that something had to be done and for that Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson deserve credit.
But the deeper social and cultural shift away from sport among young people may need far more drastic action.