Monday, 21 July 2014

Does anyone care about the Commonwealth Games?

It's always struck me as a really weird event, a hangover from empire and the Empire Games, but in reality, the Empire ended 60+ years ago and for most of us we have no more connection with Kenya or Ghana than we do with Morocco and Tunisia.

So, what's left of it is really just like a bad version of the Olympics. Winning a medal in a global contest at Pole Vault without the Russians and Americans there is like winning a national title. And as a viewer, I feel like it's somewhere meaningless.

I didn't really mind it when it was a rustled together event. The Edinburgh games in 1986 cost net about £4m. They found buildings and stadia to use. You could try and break it down and work out if it was worth it, but even back then that was not a lot of money. The Glasgow 2014 games are costing about £523m. I'm not even sure where it's going. They've spent £110m on a new velodrome (so, for some reason, the UK now has 3) but I can't see any other big venues that have been built.

And of course, Scotland has introduced the same sort of fascist laws that the Olympics had in London now about ambush marketing, so local shops and people can't decorate their windows with Commonwealth Games stuff, even though they and everyone else has paid millions towards this happening. It's only official sponsors. I've been to towns after a Tour de France stage and there's none of this. A baker will get someone to paint a cartoon of a rider holding a baguette, the butcher will get one of a pig on a bike. The florist will stick a bike outside the door and cover it in flowers.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Not me, but then again I don't care about sport, full stop, not unless there is loads of cheating involved (i.e. Formula One).

Ben Jamin' said...

I personally question the whole sports fetish thing anyway.

Should we really be subsiding peoples choice hobby/career?

I'd have thought, as long as it's not obscene, you could decorate your shop how ever you see fit.

Love to see the court case of anyone caught breaking the rules.

Ben Jamin' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DBC Reed said...

The sad remains of a good political idea: the Commonwealth Common Market which was in train until the America kiboshed it with the Atlantic Charter which they foisted on us then didn't enter the war. The Japs attacked them. The Yanks then forced us to join Europe while they swiped all the markets once protected by Imperial Preference.

Ben Jamin' said...

@ DBC Reed

Perhaps the "Commonwealth" would have been the greatest of all political ideas, if it did what it said on the tin.

Share commonly created wealth.

The Stigler said...

I do like live football, going to a match, because it's so much more visceral, so much of an event (I also say the same thing about opera and choral music - it's profoundly moving live, not so much on record).

But other than that, I can't get too excited. I do wonder how many people just go along with their mates to the pub but would actually rather go and watch a Truffaut retrospective instead.

The Stigler said...

There may (and I only say may) be some benefits in subsidising some sporting events from the perspective of bringing in tourists that you wouldn't normally get and them spending money. But you need to be rigorous with the figures.

If you're Henley, it's worth spending money on the regatta, or subsidising tickets. You get a load of hoorays coming along drinking and then needing somewhere to stay afterwards. So, they fill out your town's hotel rooms. If you subsidised it by £5/ticket, you'd make that back to the town in hotel/restaurant bookings.

The thing then is to make sure that your hotel owners and bars pay for the privilege of all the people in the town stuffing money into their pockets. Introduce LVT and the extra profit that the town has created for them gets shared around with all the residents who paid for it.

The Stigler said...


It happened. Trading standards visited shops along the torch relay route who had decorated their shops especially and told them to take down their displays of Olympic rings.

The whole thing was a vile, nasty, overhyped waste of money and I was very glad when it and all the awards and noise related to it had passed.