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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sparc report fails to ignite flames of victory

It took just 12 pages to explain why, despite a $13.86 million direct spend on the 2006 Commonwealth Games, New Zealand won 31% fewer medals than at the previous Games. I don't think it succeeds in explaining why simply because it is looking in the wrong places for the answers. And here is my interpretation:
  • The report signals that the Commonwealth Games is being downgraded, perhaps to ease the pain of future thrashings at the hands of those annoying Aussies who insist on winning everything
  • The failings at the Games rest upon the shoulders of the sports codes and the athletes concerned
  • More money than ever will be spent on coaching programmes that coaches are reluctant to attend and on programmes, like the Prime Minister's Scholarship, which hinders performance (I'll justify these outrageous claims in a future article or two)
  • Coaches and administrators are going to face more bureaucratic reporting than ever as Sparc demands even closer monitoring and reporting
  • Athletes and coaches - and their sports - are to be placed under even more pressure to meet performance criteria, or face cuts
NZ was the most stunningly turned out team at the Games. Some teams, like netball, delivered the goods.

The report left me feeling disappointed because it does not contain anything to give me the confidence that solutions have been found to NZ's overall sporting inconsistencies. Consequences, at the risk of appearing repetitious might be that:
  • Future Commonwealth Games teams may be smaller and receive less funding
  • Coaches and athletes will be placed under more pressure to produce short term performances, thus increasing injuries, burnout and premature dropout
  • Elite coaches and athletes will have less choice about how, when and where they train and compete
  • Sparc will grow in size and budget and sports will spend more time and other resources on mostly meaningless planning, monitoring and reporting and less on where it counts - on the field of training and competition and building participation in organised sport
Watch out for my upcoming articles that attempt to justify these various claims and why high performance sports programmes world-wide, generally fail to deliver value for money.


Wayne said...

how do i get a job on sparc? man only have to do a 12 page report for an entire commonwealth games, money for jam. i recall the head of sparc made a comment something along the lines of our athetes werent aggressive enough, funny thing is our most successful athletes are the nicest people you could ever meet.
Throwing money at the top level seldom achieved much when the grass roots of the sport, the clubs are withering. Sparc seems to be poingint the finger for blame and then ruthlessly cutting off funding rather than coing up with any solutions themselves to improve things. Athletics New Zealand is no better, clubs should withdraw their financial support for athletics new zealand and call for its abolision and the clubs should then vote in a new body themselves that will actually serve the clubs and the athletes rather than teh administrators serving their own agendas, sparc should give the money to athletes they should be giving it to the clubs. how does a club recruit new members when they have no money to advertise?

Gary Moller said...

I don't want to comment directly on Ath NZ other than to say that what a sport needs is stability of funding if it is to move forwards and Ath NZ has not had this for decades.
I would not be too hard on administrators. The focus of attention should be on those who recruit and appoint the senior staff and develop the policy.