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Are the Olympics the new football?

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Mihir Bose | 14:18 UK time, Thursday, 21 August 2008

Britain has its best Olympics for a century while the England football team give yet another unconvincing performance at Wembley.

So will the nation begin to lose some of its obsession with why the golden generation of Beckham and company failed to deliver and turn to the real golden generation of British sportsmen and women that have flowered so extraordinarily here in Beijing?

Not even London 2012 chief Lord Coe believes the nation is ready to turn away from football. As a season ticket holder at Chelsea, Coe himself worships football, and he rightly sees it as the nation's religion.

Road cyclist Nicole Cooke started the Great Britain gold rush in Beijing

But in a sense this is a false question - the Olympics are not meant to rival football. But where they can succeed is in providing a shift in the nation's sporting landscape.

Over the last two decades, football has completely taken over as the abiding focus of sporting attention throughout the year.

It never stops. Other sports hardly ever replace it at the head of the sports pages in the newspapers.

Twenty years ago, football did not exercise such dominance.

Then after the FA Cup final, and perhaps a couple of England internationals, cricket would take over for the summer, with other sports such as athletics also getting a fair bit of attention.

Many factors have contributed to the change, but we in the media have also played a part.

The expansion of the written press, following the arrival of new technology in the late '80s, meant that as the papers grew they began to devote more pages to football.

When I did my first football reports for the Sunday Times in the late '70s, there were barely four pages for sports and the paper never carried more than four match reports.

Reporters always wanted to get a north-south match, because that would make the final edition that circulated in London and the south. If I reported a Leeds v Nottingham Forest or some such encounter between teams from the north and the midlands, I never saw what I had written in print.

Now papers have separate sports sections, acres are given over to every Premiership match.

The broadcast media has also played a part. Back then, there was more cricket on the box and live football was confined to the FA Cup final and England matches. Satellite television has changed all that.

And of course, we have since had the explosion of the internet and online coverage.

The astonishing success of the Premier League, a rare British world market leader in sports, has also contributed.

But this is where the Beijing Olympics comes in.

The success of the British athletes has meant that for the first time anyone can remember, people are interested in the country's position in the medals table.

True, Britain cannot catch China or USA but Britain's contest with Russia for third place in the table race is the Olympics equivalent of a totally unfancied Premiership team breaking into the top four.

It is, then, hardly surprising that the Beijing Games have taken over from football as the nation's primary sporting focus.

Of course, this is not the first time people have talked about other sports becoming serious rivals for football.

Recall that rugby was meant to do so after England won the World Cup in 2003, or cricket after the Ashes victory in 2005.

But the Olympics could be different. The fact that London will follow Beijing as host city should mean that the triumphs in China will not just vanish once the summer is over.

At the same time, the church of football will not be suddenly deserted, and nor should it be.

But for the first time in a generation football may have to look over its shoulders at some Olympic sports.

And that will be good for football and sport in general.

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:33pm on 21 Aug 2008, midori49 wrote:

    Yes, it's time football was knocked off its pedestal.....these Olympic athletes, in whatever discipline, work much, much harder than the overpaid, spoilt footballers that are so often in the media spotlight....

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  • 2. At 4:37pm on 21 Aug 2008, The_Portugeezzer wrote:

    Yes obviously football will be overshadowed by olympics but for only 2 weeks every years.

    Football will always dominate and long may it do so

    Come on the prem!

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  • 3. At 4:55pm on 21 Aug 2008, vanty9 wrote:

    Olympics will always be the big event when it is on as it is only every 4 years. And this year only looks good because of the mediocracy that we have been used to accepting from our athletes. As for a previous post saying that athletes work harder than over paid footballers, what rubbish. Footballers of today are playing 2 / 3 competitive matches per week plus training every day. Competing against the best in the world 2 / 3 times a week, not once every 4 years as athletes do. They are providing entertainment for viewers every week, not every 4 years. To sum up, we expect a lot more from our football team than we do of our athletes, for example our press and fans wouldn't be happy if we finished 5 / 6 in a world cup which is where we will end up finishing in the Olympic table, but yet this is seen as huge success. Either strive for excellence or be happy with mediocracy, make the choice!!!!

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  • 4. At 4:57pm on 21 Aug 2008, Forthview wrote:

    The answer to the question in the title has to be "In your dreams". This is a great pity- I don't think a sporting monoculture is any more desirable than an agricultural one-but it's a brute reality. The Olympics sees people getting terribly excited in front of TV screens over sports they wouldn't go the end length of themselves to watch live. It gives small but hardy sporting subcultures which normally get on with their business to the massive indifference of the nation a moment in the limelight (track cycling enthusiasts, for instance). if they play their cards cleverly some of these sports may pick up new young enthusiasts who will be potential gold medal winners eight or twelve years hence. But six months down the line the golds of Beijing will be a fading memory for most as the media focus on England's World Cup qualifiers and the run-in for the Premiership.

    I speak with bitter experience here. Remember when the GB mens hockey team won gold at Seoul? This was going to lead to an upsurge in the sport, we were told (and at grass roots level I think we genuinely expected a perceptible increase in the numbers of players coming through). It never happened. Perhaps the hockey authorities bungled their chance. The game certainly isn't an ideal spectator sport (but you could say the same about rugby, which has even more complex and incomprehensible laws). You can't just improvise interest in a sport which isn't all that widely played and has something of a middle class image (even if it does command a following among populations of South Asian origin too). For whatever reason we found at club level that it was business as usual- the game vanished from the telly, press coverage even in the broadsheets returned to its usual marginal status and we saw no more kids turning up for junior training than we ever had.

    I'd like to think things might be different this time, but I'll believe it when I hear that Sky and Satanta are pitching big time for the rights to show the world track cycling championships and when the red tops cover the world rowing championships in the same detail as they accord even the Conference.


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  • 5. At 5:37pm on 21 Aug 2008, tabuks wrote:

    It would be great if we could watch more often different sport other than footbal and cricket . Unfortunately there is not the level of access avaialble to watch them at a local level. There are not as many facilities as football and rugby have. Maybe we need to get Football clubs on board, it would be great to go to a game and before the 'main match' watch some 1500m , 400m , or 100m races etc.

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  • 6. At 5:49pm on 21 Aug 2008, Presto West End wrote:

    Olympics Football could be the new football, but only if we register a team.

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  • 7. At 5:57pm on 21 Aug 2008, dudepod45 wrote:

    It's not exactly rocket science to figure out why football- and especially English Premiership football- dominates the sports media. Think about it. Sky has broadcast the Prem ever since its inception. Sky is a Newscorp company. The two top-selling UK tabloids- the News of the World and The Sun- are part of the same group. Mr Murdoch also owns The Times and The Sunday Times.

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  • 8. At 6:00pm on 21 Aug 2008, dudepod45 wrote:

    Other sports don't have a chance because the sporting media, both press and TV, is dominated by one guy for whom football is a licence to print money. Guess who I am talking about?

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  • 9. At 6:13pm on 21 Aug 2008, Saintsforever wrote:

    The Olympics certainly won't be the new football, but it's great that our athletes are getting the coverage they deserve. Most of these people earn little and have worked exceptionally hard for what they have achieved. However, England's poor performance in the football was still covered on the sport front pages, with the Olympics second. This is disgraceful, and one reason why the media have been instrumental in spreading ignornace about British sport and allowing the average bloke in the street to think that Britain or England are poor at most things. The reality is that many of our Olympic athletes have won medals at World and/or Olympic level previously and it is not a surprise that they are doing well. Outside of the Olympics many of these sports are not covered much and only receive a small column in the news, even when a World title has been won. Team GB has now done well across the board from Sydney onwards.
    What worries me most about English football is the talent simply isn't coming through compared to the rest of the World. The people running it are arrogant and incompetent and would do well to learn from other sports, but they probably won't as they look down on them. Cricket and rugby have made a mess of things in recent times, but they have been to the summit within the last five years and particularly in rugby, there's plenty of talent available. Until the media convey a more positive image and cover more sports that Britain is consistently good at, we'll have to put up with the negative images of our overpaid, underachieving footballers.

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  • 10. At 6:48pm on 21 Aug 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    In a few weeks, the only performance that will be remembered is Usain Bolt's.

    The brutal facts are that watching someone cycle round and round very quickly or swim up and down is not entertaining. It is not spectator sport.

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  • 11. At 7:23pm on 21 Aug 2008, The Lone Rangel wrote:

    It's easy (and just a tad naive to be honest) to point the finger at the media for being the reason that football is dominant. The media are responding to demand, not creating one.

    Two kids can have a kick around with an old tennis ball in the street. I've played with bottletops in the school yard against six or seven other players and one goal consisting of a couple of bags. Anyone of any background or ability can play it almost anywhere with almost no equipment, and it's been that way for 150 years. No other sport can compete with that inherent simplicity or availability. Generations of working men (sorry ladies, but historically it has been) grew up with a love of the game and passed that on to their sons, and increasingly now, daughters.

    The Beijing Olympics have been a wonderful spectacle, and a real opportunity for talented and dedicated sportsmen and women to fly the flag and achieve great things for Britain. It is important that their funding is continued and even increased in order to give them the best chance to do it again. They deserve nothing less. They cannot however challenge the People's Game. It's pointless to even try.

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  • 12. At 8:04pm on 21 Aug 2008, mike wrote:

    Another great post from Mihir Bose, considered, reflective and informative. One of few writers that steers away from sensationalist headline grabbing opinions.
    It is good to see that 'we' (British) have moved away from viewing the Olympics has been all about the athletics. It started with Redgrave and Pinsent, Chris Boardman and many others. A Gold medal in cycling/rowing/sailing is just as meaningful as a gold in the 100meters. Hopefully, the British appettite for other sports like handball, open water swimming, BMX and more, will grow and champions will be born.
    It all bodes well for four years and hopefully we are sowing seeds in the minds of 10 year olds and the next generation of Olympians.

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  • 13. At 8:09pm on 21 Aug 2008, jollygrandsamster wrote:

    put it this way - what got the most attention in the sport pages last Monday - the medals won by Team GB as well as Usain Bolt's amazing run or the opening weekend of the Premiership - proof that sometimes football does not dominate the national collective

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  • 14. At 8:48pm on 21 Aug 2008, flashing blade wrote:

    I am no longer a football fan. It's now less of a sport, more of a business. I grew up and realised it's a brand, a marketing juggernaut to fill the coffers of the top clubs and the wallets of the top players. The obscene levels of money have led to comfortable lives for those involved and blunted their desire for success. Contrast this with the cyclists, sailors, rowers, swimmers and athletes who sacrifice so much and work so hard for the top honour in their sport, usually with a fraction of the resources.

    I have enjoyed these Olympic Games immensely and, come the closing ceremony on Sunday, will sigh that this spectacle is at an end and the miriad of sports I have glimpsed all too briefly on my TV and in the media will, in the main, not be seen again for another 4 years.

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  • 15. At 8:48pm on 21 Aug 2008, deadballdispute wrote:

    Vanty9

    I understand your point but unfortunately footballers do not play against the best in the world 2/3 times a week as often the opposition are a mix of some good player, some average ones and the occasional great player. They are also part of a team for each game and so can be carried by their teammates sometimes whereas most athletes will be competing on their own. Plus we're only unhappy with finishing 5/6 in a World Cup because we have been constantly told by the players that they are a 'golden generation' and will succeed as well as the press making it seem as if they are the only team in the world! We also see them play for their clubs at a high level making our expectations higher and thus making us unhappy when they fall at an early hurdle. With the olympics we were not expected to be this good thus we are much happier to finish in the top places. In 4 years time if we finish lower then 6th or even 5th then the nation will be unhappy because we have now created higher expectations.

    I do agree that footballers work just as hard but because we see them so much, we become accustomed to great performances and don't understand that sometimes players will not just perform. It's just the way it is.

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  • 16. At 9:02pm on 21 Aug 2008, deadballdispute wrote:

    Actually, when I say that footballers work just as hard, I lie slightly, in that the training for different sports cannot be compared because of the different nature of the sports. If a footballer trained like Michael Phelps or Chris Hoy (pushing themselves to the limit ever session) then they would lose the technical side to their game that is so important. So the training cannot really be compared.

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  • 17. At 9:52pm on 21 Aug 2008, onlyonelarry wrote:

    It happens every time. We get overwhelmed (well, interested anyway) by a non-football occasion and the reaction is always "Hey! Is this the new football!?'. Well no, and despite the fantastic achievements of Team GB posting the ideal inspiration for a generation of athletes-to-come (I watched a little boy tearing around the supermarket yesterday shouting "Insane Bolt! Insane Bolt!) we'll inevitably settle back into our comfortable old routines - wondering when Benitez is qoing to quit, watching for KP's first implosion.... - and the next time we give a thought to athletics will be at SPOTY time when we'll get emotional all over again - for an hour.

    It would be nice to think we could combine athletics with a major crowd puller like football, but just imagine the obscenities pouring down from the 'terraces', particularly on the girls.

    And talking of obscenity, like many others, though not enough, I'm refusing to contribute towards the obscenity which is a league footballer's weekly wage. I would urge everyone to check out their local non-league teams if they have already done so. You'll be pleasantly surprised.


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  • 18. At 10:05pm on 21 Aug 2008, birdmanbertie wrote:

    Up until now British sporting success on the world stage usually means 1966 and all that. Surely Beijing 2008 can now rank equally with this.

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  • 19. At 10:24pm on 21 Aug 2008, Moutarde wrote:

    Oh dear, you really have run out of things to write about, haven't you, Mihir? Why not just give your contacts book to your younger colleagues like Slater and Dirs and be on your way?

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  • 20. At 10:38pm on 21 Aug 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    "Up until now British sporting success on the world stage usually means 1966 and all that. Surely Beijing 2008 can now rank equally with this."

    I don't think so. In fact, no it can't.

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  • 21. At 11:22pm on 21 Aug 2008, Mike Mullen wrote:

    One small point, if you are going to compare the Olympic sports to footbll shouldn't it be to the national teams rather than the Premiership? You know weigh Beijing 2008 against Euro 2008, oh wait...

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  • 22. At 11:33pm on 21 Aug 2008, duneworld2001 wrote:

    Firstly I find it a bit strange that you cite that football is the nation's religion, yet you have a picture of a Welsh woman right next to it, and in Wales rugby is our religion, in many ways a lot more than soccer.
    And here you are Mihir, turning our attention back to football again... for those who are actually interested in football, which I certainly am not.

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  • 23. At 11:58pm on 21 Aug 2008, Tez wrote:

    I'm sorry but that will never happen.

    Lets face the facts the olympics is great, but it is once every four years. You could add the World championships to that as well and you have a bit event every 2 years. If you watch the champions league you get to see the worlds best compete every year and several times a year for that matter.

    In olympic events you do not see the top group competing together every year weekly for a few weeks, no they strategically prepare for the big races. They race one or two big events a year, but you do not see them competing regularly enough.

    What makes it worse is if you watch the some of the minor races you already know who is going to win the majority of events, regularly their big rivals will be competing somewhere else, individual improvements are slow and unexpected wins not less regular. Lets contrast athletics with the FA Cup, at the beginning of the season could you have predicted the winner, or even the finalists, I doubt anyone even would have predicted 1 of the semi-finalists.

    Only team events tend to have regular upsets, which is why football is more watchable. Although I love watching all sport, I cannot remember an athletics event as exciting as Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain - Euro 2000, with Spain scoring 2 goals in injury time to win the match.

    Oh plus there are always events in the olympics that someone doesn't like. For me its the equistrian events. Seriously dancing horses, come on, the only real surprise is that only two of the horses are on drugs ;)

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  • 24. At 00:36am on 22 Aug 2008, Mandricard wrote:

    International sports events are always much more interesting and more impassioned than any local league, but it's like comparing soaps and films. This discussion wouldn't be complete without a certain cliche, so I might as well: football is now the opium of the masses. Nothing really gets the coverage necessary to usurp its place, but with increasingly boring premiership and international games and results there may be a gradual slight shift away from football.

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  • 25. At 01:23am on 22 Aug 2008, obbytoo wrote:

    Foot is the life and soul of British people. I cannot see how anything else could replace football in the foreseeable future.

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  • 26. At 01:52am on 22 Aug 2008, Lennonisagod wrote:

    Short answer-no.
    People that say football has become boring are just being ignorant. If England won the World Cup in 2010 (unlikely), I would literally go mental for a week, it would be the best thing ever. I'm sorry but GBR finishing 3rd or 4th in the medals table does not excite me that much (although beating the Aussies at anything is quite good) , especially considering the nature of the sports we have won our medals in.
    Not to belittle the acheivements of great athletes like Hoy and Adlington (who should not be given knighthoods- Dame Kelly Holmes what a joke that was) but the sports are followed by less people because you cannot just pick them up.
    "Oh I'll just go and get my £5000 bike and head to my nearest velodrome or get in sailing boat". For football all you need is a ball and a couple of sweatshirts.
    I have much more passion for an England team than I ever could for GBR and its not the fault of talented, young and hardworking English players that they cannot get a chance for their country but the whole system. People are too quick to critiscise footballers without knowing anything about them. A lot of them would give up the money just for a chance to put those 3 lions on their chest.
    I say come on Capello give them a chance and lets restore some pride in our national team.
    Also Bruce Forsyth for a Knighthood ahead of any team GBR athletes.

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  • 27. At 04:52am on 22 Aug 2008, quickquip wrote:

    Yes, "the England football team gave another uncinvincing performance at Wembly" - but in front of 70,000 spectators! For an insignicant friendly. When a practice ping pong match or BMX ride draws that kind of crowd maybe we can believe it. The Olympics in fact benefits greatly from its relative novelty. As well as all the hype surrounding its manufactured mystique. A steady diet of these kind of events week in and week out might not wear so well. Still football is oversold and overpublicised, as well. To call it a "religion" is actually more of an indictment than a compliment. It's time all sports were put back into perspective and ordinary people participated more and watched less.

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  • 28. At 06:49am on 22 Aug 2008, The Lone Rangel wrote:

    "and in Wales rugby is our religion, in many ways a lot more than soccer"

    No it isn't. Far more participants and spectators at all levels for football than Rugby in Wales.

    For six weeks of the year your average Welshman is interested in Rugby. For the rest of the year football is king.

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  • 29. At 09:14am on 22 Aug 2008, Richard L wrote:

    I agree with the comment regarding "frequency of entertainment", footballers are asked to play several games a week.

    Practically, for a lot of the sports it would be impossible to compete as often in front of the public eyes. I doubt Davies could swim himself near to the point of unconsciousness every week, and even if he could, it would be diminishing returns week to week.

    It's comparing apples and oranges. At the very least I'd hope youngsters are inspired to take up a different sport after seeing these Olympics. I also think that Britain's rapidly changing 'culture' has meant that we're more successful in other sports.....

    As already said by the Welsh commenter, football isn't the "national sport" in certain regions of the UK (rugby in Wales and South East Scotland....Gaelic games in Western Scotland)

    The olympics attracts a slightly different fanbase.

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  • 30. At 09:23am on 22 Aug 2008, Kplatypus wrote:

    I am a little confused about this focus on the medal table. In cycling, sailing, swimming etc., the people who won Gold medals were not 3rd, 4th or 5th, they were 1st. To argue that Rebecca Adlington's achievement in swimming is somehow less because Britain didn't do so well in other sports (football? tennis?) is very strange. Perhaps it needs to be pointed out that these strange 'Olympic Sports' exist in their own right outside the Olympics and people compete more often than every 4 years.

    The big difference between football and other sports is that there is a huge spectator following. The money is not generated by people playing the sport, but by people watching the sport. You don't see that many fat kids wandering around in cycling kit, but then children who have cycling heroes tend to cycle themselves, they don't just watch. Plenty of people football supporters would quite clearly have trouble running the length of the pitch. I agree that it is cheap to kick a ball around, but it is not cheap to buy a season ticket, to travel to watch games, to buy replacement supporter's kit each year, pay to watch the games on TV, pay to buy the computer games etc. etc.

    Being far away from water is a barrier to sailing, but its actually quite cheap to go to a local reservoir and go on a council run sailing course. You don't have to own a sailing boat to go sailing any more than you have to own your local playing field to play football. You don't need a £5000 bike to start cycling. You could certainly buy a bike or a second hand boat for the price of a premiership season ticket, and it should last you more than a year.

    Having said that, obviously many children do spend hours every day kicking a ball around, and many adults spend their free time time coaching children. However, the people who get all the money from the season tickets, the TV etc. etc. seem just as happy to import their talent from elsewhere. Perhaps the point is not whether sports like sailing will get more media coverage after the Olympics - we all know they won't - but whether all the media coverage and money generated by the football industry is just a sideshow which does nothing to help people who simply want to play the game.

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  • 31. At 11:27am on 22 Aug 2008, mightystags wrote:

    Stop it. Stop it right now. Of course the Olympics won't replace Football, or any other major sport for that matter. I do not wish to denigrate the efforts of any of the athletes at the games, no doubt they are all incredibly talented and spend years training for their moment of glory, but be honest, most of these events have very little interest to the general public - even the Chinese, with 1.4 Billion 'volunteers' to choose from, can't fill the stadiums.

    Who was that guy who won Bronze for GB on the pommel horse ? Exactly. And when you can have an event where Gold is won by a 61 year-old (US, eventing), that alone should be enough reason to drop the 'sport' from the games altogether.

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  • 32. At 2:01pm on 22 Aug 2008, BMACO1981 wrote:

    The Olympics only happens once every 4 years - I don't think you'll see many spectators down the velodrome in February 2009 when the Olympics are 3 and a half years away.

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  • 33. At 2:39pm on 22 Aug 2008, Kplatypus wrote:

    Its true that there probably won't be many spectators down the velodrome in February 2009, but there might be a few cyclists. There will be sailors in the sea and on the reservoirs, rowers and canoeists on the Thames, and children mucking out stables in order to earn a ride. This is what leads to sporting success - participation - not putting bums on seats in front in front of the telly at the pub.

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  • 34. At 3:31pm on 22 Aug 2008, duneworld2001 wrote:

    "No it isn't. Far more participants and spectators at all levels for football than Rugby in Wales."
    Even at international level? When was the last time the football team sold out the Millenium Stadium? Even in 'meaning less friendlies' the MS is filled up more than it is in WC or EC qualification games.
    I was taking exception to Mr Bose saying that football is unrivalled in Britain, well maybe in 3 out of the 4 countries that make up the UK it is, but not in Wales, where Rugby is on a par, if not a level above football.

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  • 35. At 9:40pm on 23 Aug 2008, OLYPFAN wrote:

    I think that this country has been subjected to a complete SURFEIT of football coverage for far too long....
    Let's face it folks, football is CRUSHINGLY boring. For at least 60 out of 90 mins in a match nothing much happens!! Over paid players kick a ball around and if you're lucky some action happens around the goal mouth to alleviate the tedium.
    Compare with a tennis match or fencing or volleyball or basketball or a showjumping round or a tai kwando or a boxing bout.. I could go on and on!!
    We are calling the Premiership a 'British' brand when the successful teams are dominated by foreign players and increasingly frequently by foreign owners.
    Football was popular when it was the sport of the majority and talented players were recruited from local commmunities.
    However on a more serious note, I am a schoolteacher and am becomingincreasingly concerned about the fact that too many youngsters see sporting achievement only in terms of football.
    I have LOVED watching the Olympics. I have loved watching the lesser known sports.
    We have seen keen competition and real respect and sportsmanship... it has given me real pleasure.
    I wish that the BBC would 'bite the bullet' and leave football coverage to Sky or to ITV.. after all it is now a commercial enterprise rather than a sporting event and then start covering our cyclists, swimmers, sailors, showjumpers, badmington players tai kwondo BMX riders, mountain bikers, cross country runners, junior tennis players, modern pentathletes, rowers!!!
    These I contend are still SPORTING events and I woiuld love to see my licence fees going to these sports rather than to Football, Cricket and Rugby all of which have massive sponsorship and could find alternative coverage.

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  • 36. At 11:46pm on 24 Aug 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mihir:

    Probably yes! The Olympics will be the new football.

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  • 37. At 07:54am on 28 Aug 2008, masterful_matt wrote:

    I agree that the Olympics will, every four years, take some of the attention away from football. However in reality, would the Olympics have been so popular if we weren't doing so well? Or if it was on during the football season? Us Brits shy from failure (e.g. the current England Squad) and are drawn to success, its just our way!! Just like rugby after the world cup win, cricket after the ashes, and now several sports after this Olympics, the difference between football and these sports is the staying power of football and its commercial appeal. I hope that because of London 2012, sport as a whole will benefit from some sustained attention and funding, but even further that a decent GB football team turns up in London!!!

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  • 38. At 09:50am on 28 Aug 2008, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Plenty of food for thought in what you have said here Mihir da.

    Big football clubs in England and perhaps the big IPL and ICL cricket units in India could bring about a revolution in athletics and other disciplines of the Oly Games in their respective countries.

    Athletes from the track and field events like sprinters, throwers and jumpers and others if provided regular competition like footballers, would perhaps come up with medal winning performances and also attract sponsors, fans and media attention throughout the year.

    Imagine a team comprising of athletes from Man United competing against a team of athletes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Hammers and so on. These football clubs already have their ready fan base worldwide.

    Football clubs in India like Dempo Sports Club, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting or new and recently floated cricket units like Saurav's Kolkata Knight Riders or Sachin's Mumbai Indians and others could diversify their activities and involvements. They could include some of the Oly Games events in the annual calendar and compete against their football or cricket rivals throughout the year.

    Athletes will benefit, fan base will be widened and those who feel a vocation for the breath taking events we saw in the Beijing Oly Games will get the desired platforms to express the infinite possibilites of the human body. Thanks !


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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