Monday, 6 August 2012

The faces of Cool Britannia ?

Last week I went to the Judo - I sport I have a limited knowledge of, and last night to the Graeco-Roman Wrestling - a sport I have no previous knowledge of at all. I had a great time at both. Doubtless my enjoyment would have been greater if  I'd had understood more of what I was watching - Graeco-Roman manages to be both deceptively simple and also highly technical - but after a few minutes I was completely immersed into it.  

This wasn't because I was a partisan spectator either -  Team GB were not represented at all - and with the  USA favouring  Freestyle Wrestling, Graeco-Roman seems to be dominated by Eastern Europe and Central Asia. So in the same vein as my previous post - the fact that I can came away from the Graeco-Roman so engaged speaks volumes about the 'pure' and universal ability of sport to inspire. 

There's a lot in the papers today about the feel-good factor of a weekend where Great Britain enjoyed record success in the 'mainstream' area of track and field. 

Sober reflection on this would say there is an undeniable element of jingoist distraction from the gloom of austerity in all this. I am fairly immune to this - and personally my immediate reaction to the announcement on the PA that the ever-miserable Andy Murray had won gold in the tennis was to just  groan inwardly.

But as with the 'Cool Britannia' opening ceremony, my cynicism is tempered.

There is certainly a whiff of 'one nation' bullshit about all this attempt to be all-inclusive. I'm sure there was an element of it in Lord Coe's decision to feature Jessica Ennis as the 'face of the games'. But it is worth remembering that in this country there remains a significant minority of nasty Little England shits, who would deny us the idea of a multicultural society, and wish that our society had been frozen in the Chariots of Fire era of sporting toffs we could all look up to.

One of them is Rick Dewsbury of the Daily Mail talking about the opening ceremony:'it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set up...'

The very visible success of a young state school educated, mixed-race woman from a working class background must stick in his throat and that of many others like him. And for that reason alone - despite the disgrace that 50% of British medals went to athletes educated at independent schools that cater for a mere 7% of the population - it worth (briefly) joining in the celebrations.

I promise my next post will be about something other  than the Olympics ...

1 comment:

ray said...

Yeah! My sentiments exactly. Great post. Wish I'd written it myself!