Should games be compulsory?


            If you are under 16 and going to an English or Welsh school, games are compulsory. State educational theory says that physical exercise and sport, over and above the physical exercise we all take by walking and performing our daily chores, is an important part of a healthy life and young development.

                Once over 16 some people give up sports and PE for the rest of their life. Others enthusiastically carry on with their football club or their pilates class. In the euphoric post Olympic mood the state thinks more people should carry on with games as adults. We have a Minister of Sport, whose task is to spread the word, provide some money and encourage more to join in.

          Does having state involvement like this help? Does it make much difference to how many people join in and enjoy sports? Doesn’t seeing a great sport on the tv, with a winning UK competitor, have a much bigger impact than a Ministerial statement or even a Lottery Grant to a local project?

                The other day I was phoned by a research company on behalf of Sport England. They wanted to know all sorts of things about my walking, gardening and sporting habits. The drift of the questions seemed to be towards the provision of more public finance for sports facilities. I explained that in Wokingham the local community had just organised a great new Cricket Club with two pitches and changing rooms out of private sector transactions and voluntary effort. The survey did not seem to be good at picking up private sector, charitable and voluntary activity in sports.

                 How much do we want the government involved in whether we play team games, and where they should be played? Is PE or the adult equivalent necessary, or can you get the exercise you need by walking to the shops, digging the garden  or running for bus?

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  1. Bazman
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Rather depends if games is just another name for organised bullying as it was at my school. I, at the time, was glad to see the back of sports not that I was particularly bullied.

    • stred
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Why do sports teachers often insist on making sport so unpleasant? I remember having to jump up and down while the (word left out) sports master yelled up and down orders. I had gone deaf because of sinus problems and could not hear the orders. He became enraged at my lack of timing and whacked me with a skipping rope, to encourage les autres presumably. Another, sports teacher decided to make me football captain in our first game, because I was not asking for the honour, never having played before. I was so useless that he made left me out for the rest of the season.

      My son’s school was much better, but even here the sports teacher decided to take the football team to Florida to compete in an event in the middle of summer. The boys arrived home with a form to fill in without any notice to parents, or consultation about whether it was wise to play football in the tropics. (Attack on a teacher removed ed)

      • Iain Gill
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        I save my venom for school dentists. If I were to meet the ones who treated me as a child now they would certainly get a talking to. Looking back it amazes me how they got away with it. I sure hope standrards have improved since then. In comparison the odd agressive PE teacher was small potatoes.

      • Dan H.
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        In my experience games/sports teachers ( did not apply intelligence to their task ed)

        During my entire school days, keen though they were on rugby not a single man jack of ’em ever troubled to explain the rules of the game. The net result was that during each session, only a few people actually knew what was going on and most kids took the view that if the other side wanted the ball then they could jolly well have it and more power to them. A lack of enthusiasm was also punished, so games lessons took on a surreal atmosphere where everyone seemed very enthusiastic but few seemed to be anywhere near the ball.

        The games teachers very rarely noticed this.

    • David
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I agree.
      If you want adults to do more sport why not zero rate it for VAT

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      My experience was the same – and I’d add that plenty of the bullying was being done by (some ed) PE teachers themselves.

  2. matthu
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Once you start to analyse the options it becomes all to apparent what we want and don’t want.

    Should games be compulsory?
    If so, should they be funded by the EU?
    Should schools be obliged to accept funding from the EU to support games?
    Should school children be obbliged to wear EU colours on their school kit if games have been funded by the EU?

    Why are we even considering this?

    • Jerry
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      @matthu: Care to explain why the EU has anything to do with the issues within this blog, which seeing as you asked, is to do with public health, health care costs and (probable) life expectancy.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Jerry–Can’t believe you haven’t noticed but these days and a major part of the problem it is a given that the EU is involved in anything and everything

        • Jerry
          Posted July 25, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

          Leslie, please see my reply (and explanation) to Denis a little further down.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Obviously it would be wrong if a young European citizen living in one of the member states of the Union did not have the same educational and sporting opportunities as a young European citizen living in another member state of the Union, so clearly this a matter which the Union should address.

      Fortunately Article 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union starting on page 52 here:

      does give the Union some scope for rectifying any deficiencies of the member state administrations in these matters:

      “The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be …

      (e) education, vocational training, youth and sport … “.

      Under the principle of “subsidiarity” it should perhaps be left to each member state administration to decide that the Union’s colours must be used for sporting kit in all of the schools in that part of the Union’s territory; the Union certainly has no intention to unnecessarily interfere in the nooks and crannies of the everyday lives of its citizens, provided only that adequate common standards can be guaranteed across the Union for the equal benefit of all citizens.

      • uanime5
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Well if all sports kits had to be Union colours this would mean that you wouldn’t need to buy a new sports kit if you transferred to another school.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          U5: It would also mean that inter-schools sports matches etc. could not happen, short of descending into even more farce than usual!

          It just amazes me just how some will manage to talk about the EU what ever the subject of John’s blog – I dare him to blog about the merits of Tea vs, Coffee (as a drink, not a break), I suspect someone will manage to find a EU aspect…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

            “It just amazes me just how some will manage to talk about the EU what ever the subject of John’s blog”

            Would you prefer to remain in ignorance about the extent to which the EU has now got itself involved in more or less every aspect of our lives, to a greater or lesser degree?

            There are still some matters where it would be correct to claim “Nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”, but they are now already few and far between and they are disappearing with time.

            That reference to “sport” in the EU treaties came in with the amending Treaty of Lisbon, and it was actually talked up as a benefit during the second referendum in Ireland.

            In his letter published in the Irish Times on September 4th 2009, on what grounds did the Irish MEP Sean Kelly “urge all sports supporters to vote Yes on October 2nd”?


            “The EU can only operate under the Nice Treaty at present, and so any measures involving a greater competence for sport obviously can’t come into being, until and if the said Lisbon Treaty is passed and fully implemented.”

            And so there was a carrot to be dangled:

            “I have tabled an amendment to the EU budget to increase the financial commitment to sport dramatically, in the hope that Lisbon will be passed. I will seek further financial commitments in coming years. However, if Lisbon is rejected, these funds will never materialise.”

          • Jerry
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: “Would you prefer to remain in ignorance about the extent to which the EU has now got itself involved in more or less every aspect of our lives,

            I suspect that all but three of the regulars (never mind our host, who has to read each comment) on this blog already know how bad and invasive the EU is, it’s not as though there is not ample opportunity to debate the issue anyway without every blog straying from the topic that John wishes to be discussed. How many opinions do you really think you are changing?

            But let be put it another way – there used to be a little boy who kept calling out Fire! Fire!, so tired were the brigade and the locals of the fails alarms that when the little boys house really did catch fire everyone simply ignored the cries for help – so Denis, do you want people to simply gloss over your comments, oh another (OT) comment about the EU, next comment please…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

            Jerry, remind me who wrote:

            “@matthu: Care to explain why the EU has anything to do with the issues within this blog”

            Then when you’re given an explanation, you don’t want it.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Was that a Jumbo jet just going overhead of a clue going past Denis, sorry but did you actually bother reading what I wrote in reply?

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          Uanime 5

          Would not need to buy sports kit if you transfered to another School.

          There is the problem !

          If all sports kits were the same colours, you would have to purchase two kits of different colours, because otherwise when playing another School, you would not know who your team mates were.

          May make for an interesting game, but the referee would not know who was on who’s team, because they would all be dressed the same.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          How would you tell the different school teams apart though Uni ?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          But there could be some confusion when the blues-and-yellows were playing the yellows-and-blues, which is why the Union would prefer to have the member state administrations take any blame.

          • Hope
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            Well said Dennis. The EU is a plague on all our houses in everything we try to do and it is enforced upon us by people who deceive and lie to fulfil their fantatical dream. All those who terrorised the public about the fears of not being in the Euro are starting their fear campaign in the same manner about the need to be in the EU. They were totally wrong about the Euro and they are totally wrong about the EU. If we listened to them about the Euro the country would be sunk. No apology from the likes of Clegg. he does not want people to have an EU referendum on being in the EU, but wanted us to vote on an AV system!. He did not get his way so he reneged on boundary reforms. This is the sort of person who will say anything to convince people to be in the EU. You cannot believe a word he says.

    • Acorn
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, there is not even the slightest mention of THE global event, the launch of Prince Thingy yesterday. I reckon there were 375,000 births on this planet yesterday. One of them will want for nothing and will brighten the lives of billions who have nothing else but a large gap between their income and that of the 1% Elite. A large proportion of yesterdays births, will die of curable diseases before their first birthday.

      PS. It is compulsory to blame the EU for everything on this site. But expect JR to turn down the Eurosceptisim, as we get nearer the election; and, snap back in line with CCHQ directives.

      Reply I do not receive any CCHQ directives

  3. Mick Anderson
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    While at school, PE and sport should be part of the curriculum. This is partly to do with making sure that the pupils take some exercise, but also to introduce them to different types of sport that they might not otherwise discover. Some will continue these activities into adult life.

    Once school is behind us, the Government should learn to leave us alone

    • bigneil
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I am old enough to have been at school when – -you took sports of some kind – or had a sicknote. Being built like a tank I was instantly put in the rugby team – my rather late apologies to all the others who have now got very creaky joints due to me running into them. Unfortunately – now in the day of sue who you can with a money grabbing firm off the telly – – I can see why the possibility of injury causes the school to back off from games- -but I still think todays kids are missing out on so much.

      Your last comment made me laugh out loud – -I agree – but we all know we are only here to be worked and taxed – -so we can stand and watch as our taxes are given (to bad causes ed)soon. A once beautiful country destroyed by one man and his signature.

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    It is clear that many children need exercise at school , particularly in this age when parents drive them to school every day. It may be compulsory on the curriculum, but schools have the independent authority to excuse children from sport if there is a good reason.
    There are cases where the local councils provide excellent services . I for one would prefer to attend the councils swimming pool before going to work and use their excellent gym, but that is the choice. Many would prefer to attend large private organisations , which combine as hotels and leisure activities in general . If they can afford it.. good for them. The balance in my locality as far as sport if concerned is good.
    The types of physical exercise are related to physical ability and preference . If people prefer to sit on the sofa week after week (as I have been doing for 10 days due to illness) it is also up to them . The state simply encourages its people to be healthy . It does not enforce the rules. It does not tell them what to do. It provides opportunities.

    This is the mistake I observe (if observation has any relevance) many make. An opinion which has been given based on empirical evidence, researched evidence and involving many scientists from all over the world and collated to make a health strategy is for the benefit of all individuals . It is not an unbending rule. You either take advice or you ignore it. The ones who have found out for themselves that a better lifestyle suits them may also prove the known remit of evidence wrong.
    I was watching C4 on Afghanistan last night . The sport of the youngsters there was to enjoy making mines and laughing about killing Americans.
    Syria at present is open to freedom to speak and kill in the vilest manner, yet there are not many who would see this as a freedom , because to operate in a civil society there has to be restrictions , there needs to be bodies representing the best interests of its collective people.
    Gardening is a enjoyable activity , especially when there is an end product . It also is an artistic activity. To get to that point, I find is often a must and then all changes again.
    The activities are limited to financial resource also. In the past my husband had a couple of boats , yet I was never invited to go sailing , he had bikes, but I wasn’t ever invited to go biking, he went diving , yet I was never invited to join in. There is snobbery attached to sport, there is sexism attached to sport ,but if someone finds an enjoyable niche and it gives them pleasure , they are lucky.
    The state is there to open eyes and provide opportunities , not to enforce rules.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    The people who live longest seem to be old ladies and some men who have done little more than walking, gardening and housework. The life expectancy of professional sportsmen is very low.

    I think a little sport at school is good but I would not force it on people very much if they resisted. Personally I would get rid of compulsory RE, certainly Welsh, French, Latin. I would teach them Manderin and Spanish spoken at 4+ when they would pick it up naturally. Teach them reading and writing a bit later than now (and rationalise the idiotic spellings), lots of music (the one pleasure without vice and almost free too) dancing perhaps, maths, sciences, history, geography, business – including the damage caused by a huge inefficient state sector to competitive advantage. Compound interest, the effects of inflation, probability and why not to buy lottery tickets. What else does one need? Perhaps a little understanding of irrational belief systems, like catastrophic global warming and why governments often like to encourage them for personal interest.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Proper science I mean of course, not the green indoctrination tosh, often now masquerading as science in many of the current science books and exam syllabuses.

      • Credible
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        We’ve got the message lifelogic, you don’t like physical laws or equations. Prejudice is much more rational.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

          Well I studies Maths, Physics & Engineering at top universities, it is green religions appealing to ignorant emotions that I do not like.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      “The life expectancy of professional sportsmen is low”

      Really??? What’s the evidence for this?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        The statistics are very clear is it cause or association A bit of both I suspect but very clear. Google American footballers life expectancy for example.
        You might be ok with bowls and crockett perhaps?

        • Jerry
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          @Lifelogic: American football being your average sport of course. I’m sure if you Google Skydiving you could claim that flying has a high death rate too…

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            True American Football is an extreme and with very very low life expectancies but nevertheless the rule still seems to hold for serious sport people across most sports if you do the research.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: You might be getting confused between the Lifestyle and the Sport played, unfortunately -certainly in the last 45 years- far to many sportsmen (never mind the pop-star) have been tempted by the rewards of big earnings and have thus paid the ultimate price for the Lifestyle – but then again, so have many a business men too.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          Crockett? He died at the Alamo, but not from sporting injuries.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            Croquet, I blame the spell checker and my ageing eyes, small tablet and sunshine. Not that uniform spelling is a good thing anyway.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: “Personally I would get rid of compulsory RE, certainly Welsh, French, Latin.

      A (supposedly) University educated person, in the sciences no less, calling for the final expunging of Latin when most scientific names are either Latin or derived from Latin – there seems to be no rime or reason to the ‘logic’ at times, more like just simple personal likes and dislikes!..

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        I did not want it banned merely not compulsory. It is not needed for science, a name is a name, whatever language it has been derived from.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

          @Lifelogic: Well by that ‘logic’ one doesn’t need to actually learn English either…

          • APL
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “one doesn’t need to actually learn English either…”

            Only a few days ago, LL was suggesting we shouldn’t bother to teach English.

            He has the merit of consistency.

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            I did not suggest we should not teach English, merely that some rationalisation of spellings might be sensible. Languages should evolve and improve and spellings should be no exception to this. They should not be fixed by some arbitrary historical dictionary any more than there should be one right accent for the spoken word. So many English spelling are totally absurd the time could be used to teach children something informative instead.

          • APL
            Posted July 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            lifelogic: “I did not suggest we should not teach English, merely that some rationalisation of spellings might be sensible.”

            Ah, you mean another language – one where the words are spelled differently?

            Why not just, you know, teach English?

        • stred
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          I thought Latin was a waste of time when I was at school. Now I realise it is quite useful when on holiday in southern EU. In France just clip the ends of word and slur, in Spain use use it with an Arabic gutteral sound as though you have bad sinus problems and in Italy just shout it with an over emotional slant.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

            stred and others–I was lucky enough to have to know some Latin to get in (a long time ago) and by the Lord Harry am I thankful for that. I use Latin without fail every day, the formula of say deoxyribonucleic acid somewhat less so

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        Jerry–I blame poor spelling on the EU–rime instead of rhyme for instance XX

        • Jerry
          Posted July 25, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          @Leslie Singleton: I tend to blame it on the “progressive” education that found favour in the 1960s, and perhaps the ever creeping “Americanisation” of the English language – but if it is the EU to blame, funny how it only seems to cause a problem in the UK…

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            Jerry–“…Only seems to cause a problem in the UK.” Why can you not see that this is the whole point, viz we are different from, I would say superior to, the countries across the Channel, so you are pushing at an open door. Why should the way we see problems be identical to the way foreigners see them? They eat frogs and horses remember. An American friend just wrote to me to say that he regards London as the capital of the world. I do not want to be homogenised TVM.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton: That comment says far about you than it does any other European (or country), clues are special offer in the supermarkets at the moment, do yourself a favour and find a few. 🙁

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 25, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          What is wrong with “rime” looks more sensible to me? Does it cause any confusion or ambiguity?

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted July 26, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

            life or Lifelogic (Are you the same or doesn’t it matter?)–They mean something different and rime is never good, for a start XX

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

            @Leslie: There is no distinction in the spoken language and no confusion ever arises between the two, so why bother to have a distinction in the written language? Spelling should evolve as language does, not be fixed by an obsolete dictionary of what is “right”. It is not democratic and can never improve. Are we going to force southerners to say their a’s properly next with a “right” pronunciation dictionary?

      • Dan H.
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh don’t wheel that old chesnut out; a knowledge of Latin or Greek is of absolutely NO use whatsoever in the field of biology. I ought to know, having a degree and a doctorate in biology, and also having foolishly opted years before for a Latin O level.

        The Latin O level was enthusiastically though utterly erroneously claimed to be useful for a biologist. It isn’t. Trust me on this.

        If you don’t trust me, then tell me (without looking up the name) what manner of beasts Globodera rostochiensis and Longidorus longissimus are, or even how big they are.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      lifelogic–Manderin (sic) is definitely one of the more reprehensible spellings (!) but more seriously the talk on this sort of question is always as if there is unlimited time at school whereas nothing could be further from the truth especially now with the advent of PC’s etc and their programming. I remember at my old Grammar School (now razed to the ground by the Left Wing Loonies but of sacred memory) the whole of Friday afternoon was devoted to (aka wasted on) a long bus ride to a Games Field just to kick a ball around–rather aimlessly for most of us–only those good at Games gave a damn. RE, Art (splashing paint around), Dancing, Music would be for the immediate chop if I were in charge. By no means necessarily “wrong”, but to me more in the category of hobbies–as well teach the kids how to play Backgammon which, played half way seriously, would at least give them a grounding in Probability not to mention the value of money. Of course bring back separate lessons in branches of Science and Maths. The other day I ran in to someone who apart from being totally clueless at it said she had never heard of “Arithmetic”–as something separate from Algebra and Geometry and that’s just for starters.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I think you will find that most people over the age of 65 had compulsory sport at school. There wasn’t very much choice but everyone had to take part.

      My choice of swimming as an alternative after the age of 14 has resulted in a daughter who swam for England and grandchildren (my son’s children) in Canada who compete at the top level competetively. I have also taught a large number of children to swim and trained others in life saving.

      Without my compulsory sport none of these would probably have happened as my parents had no interest. Sport should be compulsory until at least the age of 16 and strongly encouraged until children leave school.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        @behindthefrogs: Anyone over 50 years old will have had compulsory sports at school, and compulsory (usually, all but cold) communal showers after…

      • APL
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        behindthefrogs: “My choice of swimming as an alternative ”

        That has just made me recall bobbing up and down in at the 5’6″ end of the pool where I could just touch the bottom with my toes, the swimming teacher shouting, ‘get away from the side, boy’, as I desperately tried to save myself from drowning.

        Ah, happy days!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Teach them some real Cooking too as the British and their hotels and restaurants are so dreadful at it. Mind you here in France it get worse and more industrial every year I come. More expensive too due to Cameron’s weak pound policy and general incompetence. It seems Cameron is aiming for another coalition in 2015, Paul Goodman in the telegraph today. Cameron has no chance of even that, true Miliband is useless but Cameron could not even beat Brown and that was before he proved to be an incompetent, say one thing do the other, ratting fraud. I see they are already producing Whitehall reports on the “benefits” of the EU to the UK, what dreadful, dishonest, idiots we have in charge.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: “I see they are already producing Whitehall reports on the “benefits” of the EU to the UK, what dreadful, dishonest, idiots we have in charge.

        Can”t be all that bad LL, after all that daft idea of freedom of movement within the EU is rather useful to those who wish to live in -say- France, no undue pesky migration rules etc, it’s just a bit strange though that some wish to do to our continental neighbours what they would rather others not to do to the UK. Oh and how much easier it would be to travel between the UK and -say- France if only the Schengen Agreement was fully implemented…. What say you Mr Lifelogic? 😛

        Apologies to John for straying off topic, although the French do play a wicked game of rugby and Football, although they seem a little stumped at the idea behind Cricket, but then again they do play lacrosse…

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

          There was never any problem travelling to France or similar before the EU.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 24, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: I said living in France, I know that one could travel in France, did enough my self before the UK was even a member of the EEC.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      And some practical building and engineering skills too.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: Couldn’t agree more. When will politicains and the so called educational experts finally accept that some people are far more practically gifted than academically gifted – but then it is not so easy to test the practical skills, and it costs more to do so…

  6. Jerry
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    You seem to be asking two different questions here, one about cost and another about physical activity, I don’t think that everything should be free but nor should profit be the motive. Does that great new Cricket Club charge a membership, if so how much is it, will it put off struggling families and individuals from joining – would someone on the NMW or JSA be able to take an active roll, if good enough can (subsidised) kit be provided?

    Now to the question of activity, assuming that the often locked door is opened for all, certainly adults should be encouraged, and yes sport should be compulsory for children but they should be given a choice (not everyone is built for ruby, not everyone likes swimming, basketball or Baseball are just as good sports to both ensure physical activity and the mental health benefits of sport. What kids do not need and should not be given is mere “games” were the sporting element, the competitive component, has all but been removed – there should be winners and a loosers, if a child keeps loosing then perhaps the is not so much a failure but simply playing the wrong sport.

  7. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    From my sons’ experiences, it seems to be a bit better (at school) these days …. but I can remember children at my school forced to vault horses and climb ropes and even do something which our sadistic PE teacher called a ‘falling angel’. You had to sit on a beam about 10′ in the air, put your arms out horizontally and then just fall backwards – relying on the PE teacher to spin you so you landed on your feet. Even for me, and I loved all sport, it was bloody terrifying. If the gym was set up for that sort of nonsense when we peeked through before getting changed, a friend of mine would go in to the toilets and vomit – he was that scared.

    So, why the emphasis on ‘games’ which are, by their nature, competitive and which, by definition, mean that some children end up hating sport and feeling bad about themselves.

    A much greater emphasis should be placed on ‘exercise’ and the benefits it brings – for your whole life. And non-competitive things like yoga should be taught. If children learnt to do yoga and kept it up their whole lives – a lot of health problems throughout their lives would simply not happen. And they would be happier and better balanced (mentally and physically).

    How should the government be involved? Obviously during school there is a role for making sure children get the exercise they need but, more importantly, teaching them the importance of regular exercise and not putting them off it for life by making them compete in team games they are not good at.

    The consensus amongst health professionals these days seems to be that raising your heart beat to 140 beats per minute, for about 15 to 20 minutes, 3 times a week – is enough to keep you in working order. Some say that a half hour walk a day is enough. Certainly we don’t need the government facilitating team games for adults. But community facilities to do things most people cannot afford, but which have health benefits, (like swimming pools) seems like a good investment to me. Running and maintaining playing fields where people who do want to play team sports can hire the facility is also a good use of government.

    I’d like to see regular health messages on the box. Delivered by health professionals (i.e. doctors) along the lines of – whether you look like this – picture of someone 2 stone overweight – or this – picture of someone (of ‘normal’ appearance, not a bloody model) – is up to you. Etc.

    That said, many people lead extremely stressful lives. Long hours working, endless money worries and so on. What could the government do about that? I would suggest one of the basic things the government could do is to make sure that the two basic things we all need, food and shelter, are affordable. When people are less stressed they are less likely to (eventually) come on from work and just flop in front of the box.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Learning to swim does however increase you chances of death from drowning.

      • Bazman
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Is that your ‘logic’. If you cannot swim you will drown in six feet of water… I take it you cannot swim?

        • Jerry
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          @Bazman: I take it that you don’t recognise irony when it slaps you in the face! Of course non swimmers drown but many swimmers drown because they over estimate their abilities, nor do non-swimmers intentionally chuck themselves in the drink…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          I can indeed swim, but people who cannot swim do not go swimming, take up water sports nor try to rescue people drowning, so statistically they tend to drown less often.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 25, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Irony Jerry? Like card tricks to dog for lifogic.
            This being a reason not to learn to swim? I once knew a senior navel officer who could not swim.He said the ship could not turn around fast enough anyway…In the dock?

      • StevenL
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

        Bowling medium pace wrecks your shoulder too. I bowled in the nets and on the field for about 8 years from 2002 and mine is completely wrecked.

      • behindthefrogs
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Learning to swim should be accompanied by a qualification and anyone who fails to achieve that qualification should be clearly taught that they cannot swim adequately. That should include their parents.

        I find it doubtful that the current minimum recommended standard of being able to swim 25 metres is sufficient. This should be accompanied by a demonstration of confidence in the water as demonstrated by standard basic personal survival skills.

  8. stred
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    My partner and I needed some exercise and accepted a half price offer to join our local state supported sports centre shared with a school. There were badminton courts, cycling and exercise machines, exercise classes and a swimming pool.

    Even at half price it was quite expensive but we looked forward to getting fit. When we went to play badminton we had one game and were then told to leave because the hall was needed for football. We can’t get home any earlier. So we went up to the cycling machine room and there we were told that we had to take exercise with a class, where the enthusiastic superfit bloke in charge would tell us how fast to go and shout orders. Behind his podium were large speakers. We watched the frenzied performance from outside, where it was still deafening. Not for us.

    Then my partner looked in at the ladies exercise class. More like a disco with a screaming dingbat in charge. Then to the pool, where it was divided of for fast and slow. Anyway, my bird can’t swim and needed the shallow end. The other exercise machines were fully occupied and we had to go on a fitness programme to use them. There were so many staff telling us what to do- no wonder it was so expensive.

    So we decided to use our own exercise bike, take more walks and cycle when it wasn’t raining or freezing cold.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      It is certainly true that deafening music in state sponsored sports centres has got out of hand.

      And its also true that slots for ordinary working people to use the entire swimming pool are like hens teeth.

    • bigneil
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I regularly pass a gym that is right at the side of an A road – – and the same thought goes through my mind as I see the figures pounding away on the running machines – -why drive there – run – then drive home? Why not save the fuel and just run from home – then I realised the most important bit – -running from home doesn’t show off the new BMW in the gym car park. Or am I being a tad nasty ?

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      This is a lovely piece and exemplifies my view that it is not a structure , but the people in a structure it who are too competitive and bossy. They will do anything to win , even if it is against their own interests, then there is the joining in of even the weather being against physical progress.( pathetic fallacy) We are all part of nature , human and non human.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Very sensible of you, everything is now to load I need my fingers in my ears at the cinema too. Are youngsters all deaf now?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Ahh, it is not just me then. Not only is it too loud but we seem to be plagued by utterly useless sound engineers who cannot record dialog.

        Actors these days mutter – they make no attempt to ‘deliver’ their lines – but sound engineers seem to have no idea how to bring the voice up against the background music so you can actually understand the dialogue.

        They had a couple of luvvie/media types on the box discussing this very thing the other day and their attitude seemed to be ‘if you don’t hear all the dialogue – tough’.

        Well, it will be tough on them one day. I don’t bother going to the cinema any more – despite being something of a film buff.

        Even at home, listening in a quiet room with a good quality television, the dialog is often incomprehensible. I have to put sub titles on sometimes.

        And, my hearing is fine.

        • stred
          Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          I was actually made deaf in the high frequencies when I went to a jazz club. When I complained they told me to leave. The audiologist told me that a lot of young people are going deaf because of loud amplified music. We went to a birthday performance where the ‘sound man’ turned it up so loud that the group had to cover their microphones to prevent feedback.

          I take earplugs to the cinema and have to pull them in and out in order to hear what I can of the speech, which is often drowned by music and thunder rolls. The BBC do the same in programmes such as The Universe by Brian Cox.
          I used to ask the cinema if they could turn it down, which they did, but now they say sound levels are set by the company directors and automated. So I avoid big cinemas and go to the small local ones.

          • Dan H.
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            You might like to try shooting ear valve type ear defenders. These attenuate loud noises, especially high frequency ones, but allow some normal conversation to sneak through.

    • Acorn
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I can’t take much more of this, pass the Soylent Green. Has anyone got the number for the Samaritans. “We’re doomed, doomed I tell you!” (HT: Private Frazer).

      PS. There is a chance that GDP may have got a bit of a lift for Q2. Make sure you get told the year on year number, the three month non-annualised number, is pretty meaning less. George will pick the one with the biggest positive number, knowing you a too dumb to know the difference. 😉 .

    • APL
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Stred: “Even at half price it was quite expensive but we looked forward to getting fit. ”

      Not many people seem to know this. You can get fit at home for nothing more than the price of a £10 exercise mat, and forty minutes a day. Which after the first three months you can cut back to forty minutes every other day, if you so wish.

  9. Tony Harrison
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I see no justification for the State to involve itself in sporting activity: that sort of thing should be left to authoritarian regimes for which sporting success is seen to bolster their legitimacy and distract the populace from getting ideas above their station. The State has no business spending taxpayers’ money to send a national tiddlywinks team to China, or whatever.
    No, games/sports at school should not be compulsory – or at least, not unless they are organised on a far different basis from my 1960s boarding school. The limited range of sporting options there, the fascistic celebration of discomfort, and the brutish intolerance of dissent, put me off sport of all kinds for many years, which was a great shame since in later life I engage enthusiastically in games I detested at school.

  10. Andyvan
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    When I was at school I loathed and detested sports principally because I was forced to do it. Had the school behaved like civilised people and invited me to play if I wished then I would probably have done so and not had to devote my energies to avoiding it.
    When I left school and took up motocross and later cross country walking I could see all the sport loving classmates getting fatter by the year. In the decades since two have succumbed to heart disease and I am still, by far, the one that gets most exercise and is the fittest.
    Compulsion to play sport is a very bad idea and has no bearing on health in later life. In fact compulsion is always counterproductive and since it is the primary tool of the state helps to explain why we are in so much trouble now and why education is so poor.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink


      I used to always be the last picked for a team by the ‘captains’ in PE lessons. An utterly humiliating experience. I was written off completely and now hate sport with a passion – especially football.

      Taunting the thick was deemed unacceptable and yet those with lack of sporting ability were fair game – sometimes subject to real violence disguised as ‘sport.’

      In adulthood I run fifteen miles a week, work out at the gym and have a black belt in karate.

  11. Martin
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Anyone who walks to the shops, runs for the bus and pushes the lawn mower around the garden is I suspect in the top ten percent of the UK fitness league.

    Clearly the school PE regime most of us were subjected to didn’t achieve much. It did however give a start to those who were good at team sports (football, cricket, rugby or athletics.

    When I was at school there were some pupils for whom the PE period was the only class they enjoyed.

    So on balance I would keep games/PE compulsory until say 14/15/16.

  12. Excalibur
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The last thing we need is more government intrusion in our lives. The office of Minister of Sport is a luxury we cannot afford.Those motivated towards sport will find a conduit for their activities. Many people never exercise all their lives. If you have a physiology that needs exercise (as I do) then you will find an outlet for it. Having said that, games should be compulsory in schools. They help to establish membership and to foster a team spirit. Incidentally, what is the annual budget for the office of the Minister of Sport ? Let’s dispense with the flummery of Sport England.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      @Excalibur: “The office of Minister of Sport is a luxury we cannot afford.

      Indeed, the DfCMS should be closed, media and culture should be a part of the Home Office whilst if there needs to be an oversight of Sport in the UK it would be more truthful to entrust it to Biz as most sport is now actually big business, or (and more in keeping with issues of this blog) it might be better under the wing of the Education department.

      Many people never exercise all their lives.

      Many people do not need to do extra exercise, it has only been with the increase in desk-bound jobs and the decrease in physical jobs that has actually seen the increased problem of obesity and general unfitness of the general population – and it has been the increase use of computers, games consoles and a 101 odd children’s TV channels that has seen a similar problem with children, never mind the very much over played “street dangers” that cause parents to keep their kids indoors or in the family car etc.

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    There are many youngsters who don’t like organised sport, certainly I didn’t. But on the other hand, I liked cycling and cycled the three miles each way to grammar school most days, and indeed continued to cycle wherever I could, including both cycling to work as well as cycling 5 miles three nights a week to technical college. I only stopped cycling when I was able to afford a small car.
    Surely its a matter of taking reasonable steps to ensure children get sufficient exercise which is clearly the problem these days. Whether organised sport is the solution is another matter. Fortunately my old grammar school recognised that some boys didn’t like sport and those of us who didn’t were taught to play chess, which may not exercise the body, but certainly exercised the mind.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I believe it is sensible for schools to provide a choice of games and PE at school, with the requirement that all children try something. A few will enjoy this and continue into adulthood, others – probably the majority – will never play a team game at all. But at least they will have the opportunity to try things out and decide for themselves.

    As for adults, they should make up their own minds. I note that triathlon events attract huge participation levels and lots of spectators too. And they can do that on existing roads and on lakes and rivers with relatively little need for expensively maintained, purpose built sports facilities – and the competitors provide their own wet suits, running shoes and bicycles too. They seem to get on with it on their own initiative and the help of eager sponsors.

  15. Vanessa
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Yes. Even if you don’t like them they are good for you and there are plenty of things in life one has to do that you do not like. It is good training.

  16. Iain Gill
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I do think some basics need to be nudged along by the state, a decent swimming pool in each town etc. A basic playing field, which is just some flat grass, shouldn’t cost much to provide. Some of the other stuff the state gets involved in funding I think are over the top, I know a lot of publicly funded tennis courts are just used the few weeks after Wimbledon when they hype is there the rest of the year they stand empty.

    As far as schools go I did and do get cheesed off with the narrow minded view of so called “team sports” and the nonsense that you need to be able to play their definition of a team sport to learn team work. My main sports at school age were cross-country running and canoeing. When you’re out at sea in a canoe you rely on each other for your life, so a much tougher set of team building lessons than you will get on a football or rugby pitch. I was pretty good at canoe polo too, a sport the narrow minded PE teachers didn’t regard as a team sport either and how wrong they are.

    I think people would be surprised the numbers of kids who don’t like football or rugby and the way it is rammed down teenagers throats at school probably does more to put them off sport for life than anything.

    Re “can you get the exercise you need by walking to the shops, digging the garden or running for bus?” not really. Lots of manual workers get more than enough exercise at work though. Lots of folk develop dodgy knees or similar and exercising in a swimming pool is often the best physiotherapy.

  17. colliemum
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    While I hated sports at school, I still do think it is extremely important. Not only does it allow children to let off steam in an organised fashion, it also helps those who are a bit clumsy to learn body control.
    After school, and for the general public, all government should do is provide enough spaces, halls, pools, for everybody to be able to enjoy the sport of their choice.

    My special moan is about local councils giving free tickets to the elderly – for swimming – on the one hand, while closing down practically all pools, indoor and outdoor, on the other, so that there’s only one proper pool for all … and nobody enjoys going there.

    Why was it possible for local councils to run multiple municipal pools and have lots of playing fields all over the town after the war and into the 1980s, when there was far less money around than now?
    I’d be really grateful if someone could explain that conundrum …

  18. Kenneth
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    In the past children from the age of (say) 9 had traditionally organised their own activities which was very often a sports match of some sort, with football being a long term favourite.

    However, the state insists on organising sporting events for our children via the school or by granting funds to local sporting efforts which then organise training, leagues etc and generally ‘formalise’ children’s play.

    Some parents get up at an unearthly hour on a Sunday and take part in a rate-race to a football field far away as part of a league or cup event. There is no time left for a group of kids to knock on each other’s doors and take a football down the park.

    I cannot offer any evidence, but my hunch is that children who like sport would have played it anyway, before any of this state and quasi-state structure was brought in. Those that do not like it avoid it anyway and dread PE lessons.

    I often hear on the radio calls for more funding for sports. I am also told that “these things are expensive” and need proper funding. Excuse me, but when did a ball and a stretch of grassland cost so much?

    Sport, along with music, drama and art, is a hobby. Very few people will make a commercial living from it. I would prefer to see less state intervention in these areas and allow schools to concentrate on vocational matters. This would allow those who like sport to play it and those that do not to do something they want to do. It will improve education, provide a more skilled workforce and allow children to play again.

  19. rick hamilton
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I was at a grammar school near Wokingham many years ago. At that time there was a certain ‘national service’ approach by the PE master and he seemed to delight in forcing unwilling boys to do things they hated. For me (having lived in a warm climate previously) rolling around in cold mud and running in the fog and rain held no attractions. I was relieved to end up doing swimming and eventually judo which I greatly enjoyed.

    Since then I have had zero interest in rugby, football or running which I am sure is due to this early ‘aversion therapy’. Of course schoolchildren should be required to take exercise, and even to attempt things which they might initially be fearful of – but if they hate it, do not force them. Find out what they can do, and enjoy, and this will keep them doing exercise through their life.

  20. alan jutson
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Sport at School.

    This subject fills some with horror and many with pleasure, but certainly being active does I belive keep you rather more healthy, however if you excersise to excess, it can wreck your body.

    One only has to look at those who do physical jobs (builders for example) to see that in their younger years they look and feel fit and healthy, then look at a builder at 60, and you will find many have, back, knee and shoulder problems where the joints and skeleton are simply worn out.

    For myself I was always keen on sports, and was in both the school football, cricket teams, and athletic teams.
    I carried on playing competitive football during my working life, until injury when I then took up badminton.
    I now enjoy rather less physical activities, but still walk/ramble
    Certainly it is my view that you feel better when fit, absolutely no question, and I also believe that it is good for the mind to have a competitive spirit.

    The one thing sport at School does do, is allow those who are good at it, but struggle with academic life to shine, and get one over on the school swat.
    We had a successful School team, and on every Monday morning our Captain was asked by the Headmaster to precis our performance over the weekend to the whole School at morning assembly (remember those days) thus we got recognition.

    What I find amazing is that we still seem to want to sell off School playing fields.
    Our National teams are often not shown on free Terestrial Television (Ashes series an example)
    Local Authority provided centres can be expensive if they exist.
    In decades past it was common to see ball games being played in Parks (coats used as goalposts), now such games seem to be banned.
    Thus the very basics for encouragement and learning are not easily available to the masses.

    All most kids seem to want to do now is sit and play on a games machine or on a computer.
    I wonder what there age expectation will be in a few years time ?.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink


      their not “there”.

  21. peter davies
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Given that the state has the obligation to educate children, part of that education curriculum must be physical which means sport of some sort. This is probably more important now than it ever has been as for many children it is probably the only major exercise they get given that they all have games, tv and most parents drive them around.

    For the other part of your question I think inspiration comes from successful sports people – just look at last years Tour De France and the Bradley Wiggins effect. I tried to buy a racing bike around that period and prices shot up due to the demand – bike sales are still buoyant now.

  22. lojolondon
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    In my birth-country, there was no money for anything. But sport was compulsory, it was a subject during school and you got marks for how well you did. Every child could do any sport that was offered, cricket, rugby, football for boys, hockey, netball for girls, and gymnastics, athletics, swimming for both. If you did not want to be active you could play chess. No harm done, and a lot of good. Budget was close to zero. That is what I would do.

    Bear in mind these damn charities set up by Labour are not charities at all, more like untaxed qangos and jobs for mates. They exist to take money from the taxman, and to promote the Labour lifestyle, ie. a constant whinging against cuts.
    If there is a service the government needs to provide, it should be provided, honestly and openly. But no taxpayers money should ever go towards a charity, that should be discretional spending, not compulsory.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Untaxed quangos and jobs for mates that will be driving it.

    • Bazman
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Or tax evasion schemes masquerading as charities. You two however do not want to know this do you?

  23. outsider
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Again, governments should stick to their job; in this case it is to provide education of mind and body.

    As an essential basic, all schools can provide 10 minutes of simple keep-fit exercise for every class every day, since virtually every school has one suitable space. Practical alternatives for those who are currently physically disabled. Should cost nothing, reduces stress, improves learning ability.

    Next, teach as many as is feasible the basis skills needed for “normal” life: running 200 yards in an improving time, swimming two lengths of a pool, jumping longer and higher, improving hand-eye co-ordination (needed for all ball games and fixing shelves) and teaching balance and stillness. This what PE should be about, not just gymnastics.

    Team sports are great , though perhaps more for mind than body (competition and co-operation). First step: zero development of publicly owned playing fields.
    It can be no accident that the vast majority of private schools stress outdoor team sports, but many have more time and space. For inner city schools that have to travel to a distant soulless field, using up a tenth of the school week for what is often desultory play with no training, it can be a poor use of time and money.

    There is no need to be fixated on a single state formula . Country/line/Scottish dancing is probably just as good for co-operation and exercise, albeit not for boys-only schools. It also needs no playing field and helps with social skills for life. And for most schools, table tennis is probably more practical than lawn tennis.

    • outsider
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, forgot to include physical self-defence skills as a key part of basic PE: Judo, karate, boxing, whatever the children and parents prefer.

  24. Atlas
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Compulsory school sports put me off them then and still does now.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I am amazed at the number of the responses who disliked or who were put off games and sport at school . For my part , I really enjoyed all the sporting activities there and felt they contributed a great deal to character building and the feeling of responsibility to others . I continued my interests at University and afterwards . Swimming was a particular interest including Water Polo . I trained Channel Swimmers and was Coach to the Bermuda Swimming team in 1952 ( Helsinki ) . At no time did I ever come across a “resentful ” or grudge bearing athlete ; there was a pride in their achievements and an eagerness to pass on their enthusiasm . Keep sports a key feature at schools !

  26. Normandee
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Still looking forward to your response to the Hague / EU whitewash. This is the start of the campaign for next years Europeans, but really only the warm up for 2015 and the big co-ordinated conservative / EU/ Lib Dem/Labour/BBC Yes campaign if, if by any fluke we still get a pretence of a referendum in 2017. You are either part of it all or against it, and as is now more than clear you cannot win from inside the party what are you going to do about it?

    Reply I will be tackling this next week

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 24, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      JR, I hope you will recall that Hague’s previous mantra was:

      “In Europe, not run by Europe”,


      “In Europe, but only run by Europe to the correct extent”.

      The optimum degree of subjugation, as it were.

      Which in the absence of national vetoes on almost all EU decisions is the obvious implication of acquiescence to any “balance of competences” other than one where all competences rested with the UK and other member states and none at all rested with the EU; if Hague were to conclude that the present balance is more or less correct then he would be saying that we now have a kind of “Goldilocks” degree of legal subordination to the EU, in his view just the right amount of eurofederalism, not too little and not too much.

      And I hope you will also recall that Hague repeatedly stated two separate general grounds for opposing the Labour government over the amending Lisbon Treaty; the first was that unless the treaty had been approved through a referendum it would lack democratic legitimacy in this country, while the second was that the treaty would give the EU too much power over our national policies.

      Now that treaty is in force, how can it possibly be the case that in Hague’s revised view it no longer gives the EU too much power over our national policies?

      Reply I will be dealing with this next week

  27. Ludwig
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    If a parent chooses to send their child to a particular school and PE/Games is on the curriculum then they should not be allowed to opt out any more than they should be allowed to opt out of Maths. If the parents don’t like this then they should be free to seek educational opportunities for their children elsewhere (maybe home schooling?). I think the vast majority of parents appreciate the value of PE/Games at school, even if they don’t encourage their children to lead more active lifestyles outside of it.

  28. REPay
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Please, no more central state money for sport!!! Facilities should be provided locally as part of local government and at local taxpayer expense. I forgot the money come largely from central government.

    Exercise is good for individuals but this cannot be centrally directed. Please, lets stop government trying to manicure the universe!

    PS I remember being told that an exceptionally clever boy at my school, a few years before my time, refused to do compulsory Tuesday and Thursday sport. He also led a boycott of sports by similarly minded pupils. Ringing any bells?

    Reply I think you are misinformed

  29. uanime5
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I’d have to say that the education secretary overruling local schools and forcing them to sell of their playing fields didn’t help encourage people to play sports.

    How much exercise you need depends on your calorie intake, so if you eat healthily you don’t need much exercise to remain a health weight. Though the Government could encourage people to exercise by creating a BBC TV channel or radio station that featured easy to perform workouts (technically you could just make one programme and broadcast it over and over).

    In other news Atos is no longer going to have a monopoly on assessing whether the disabled are able to work (see link)

  30. Mark
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Sport and exercise should certainly be part of the development of children except those with real disabilities (and even for them some alternatives that suit can often be found). Not only does it develop bodily co-ordination and muscles, but also it teaches working in a team, how to compete and how to win and how to cope with losing or not being selected for the big team. However, there should be no compulsion to pursue a particular sport that doesn’t suit the aptitudes of a particular child.

    Much sport is a social activity, and produces mixing with a wider range of people. That of itself is a further advantage that can carry on later in life. I was never very skilled at any particular sport, but I recognise the wider benefits it brings.

    It does also open up avenues for those with abilities that form the basis of a career in sport or in strongly physical lines of work. Therefore it needs to be available every bit as much as training in other skills or academic subjects.

  31. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 24, 2013 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Sport used to mean team sports and was a channel for male aggression. There was a time when organised and channeled male aggression did the State some service. It also worked in some types of business.

    Now we live in a wonderful world where male aggression is in theory not welcome; what aggressive activities remain must be shared with women. Our sports centres have a mixed gym and a ladies’ gym. We have mixed swimming pools and changing facilities and women only swimming pools and changing facilities. Is there still ladies’ bathing on Hampstead Heath?

    Allow male bonding and camaraderie? You’ve got to be joking.

    • Alistair
      Posted July 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink


      I remember all the people who were good at sport at my school. (unflattering comment removed about them ed) None of them will have got a job over median wage.

  32. Alistair
    Posted July 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    When you said games I assumed you meant proper games, with a board and counters and hopefully dice. Not, you know, sport. Yeuck.

    Chess and scrabble, Risk and Settlers of Catan, Carsaconne and MTG. They should be compulsory. Teach people to think and strategise. Stuff football; I mean; manual labour is going to count for less and less in the future so why are we training for physical performance?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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