by Our Sports Desk
BASKETBALL-MAD MPs launched a scathing attack on Britain’s sporting authorities yesterday for failing to take account of the social value of team games.
The all-party parliamentary group on basketball called for a “radical rethink” of sport funding in its first report, claiming the current model risks “the inadvertent disenfranchising of a whole segment of UK society.”
The MPs urged changes both by elite-level funder UK Sport and grass-roots development body Sport England.
UK Sport withdrew all of British basketball’s funding in February, arguing it couldn’t expect to receive support when its 2016 Olympic medal prospects were so slim.
But the MPs urged Sport Minister Helen Grant to review how such decisions were made, arguing that its biggest winning contribution was off the scoreboard.
“I already knew from the local examples I’ve seen over the years that a lot of great work goes on in schools and communities across the country,” said group chairwoman Sharon Hodgson.
“But none of us could have foreseen the scope and breadth of those activities, nor the extent to which the lives of young people, particularly the most disadvantaged, are being transformed.”
South London side the Brixton Topcats gave evidence to the panel explaining their aim of advancing the education of locals to develop their “physical, mental and spiritual capacity.”
The team’s Jimmy Rogers said: “Our philosophy is — winning is an attitude, it is not about winning a game of basketball, but winning the game of life.”
Labour MP Ms Hodgson added: “While inaccessible and individual sports get millions, inclusive, socially valuable team sports like basketball continue to see their funding slashed, closing down opportunities for young people to get involved. That just can’t be right.”
“Getting a few dozen medals at the Olympic games is great, but surely improving the life chances of countless thousands of young people should be a much higher priority for public money.
“We need a radical rethink about how we fund sport in the UK, and I hope that’s what this report will lead to.”
The report also urges the Cabinet Office to examine the potential of basketball to contribute to cross-departmental objectives on improving health and educational outcomes, social engagement and reducing crime.
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