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Governments Attitude and Policy towards Sport - Essay Example

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Governments Attitude and Policy towards Sport

Sports policy can also be regarded as a prism through which wider ideological and practical political thought can be viewed. The three governments of Margaret Thatcher/John Major (Conservative) and Tony Blair's New Labour illustrate the contrasts that can be found within sports policy. As Houlihan (2002) suggests, "some policy areas are easier than others to plot and delimit", and this is especially the case with sports which is often a fulcrum around which a number of forces, from education to national prestige to public health revolves.
The Thatcher government adopted what may be regarded as a characteristically laissez-faire and privatized view of sports leadership at both the national and local level. One of her first actions as prime Minister was to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afgahnistan. Britain was no alone in this boycott, being joined by 62 other Western countries. One aspect of Thatcher's policy that contrasted with the provision of money for various sports stadiums, organizations and for sports on school, something which every government since WWII had instituted was her government's reaction to football hooliganism. Under watch football hooliganism took on massive and deadly proportions, such as the fights that occurred at the European Cup Final in Brussels in which 36 people were killed (Frosdick, 2005). Thatcher introduced a number of new laws and policies that would ban alcohol at grounds, increase police powers to control the behavior and size of the crowd, as well as introducing surveillance such as close-circuit TV cameras that had previously been regarded as an invasion of privacy. Football hooliganism was a fulcrum around which many forces revolved, including serious suggestions that a National Identity Card should be introduced, even though at its height the problem probably only involved a few thousand key members at the most.
One of the major developments that came under John Major's watch as Prime Minister was the formation of "UK Sport", which became a central focus for sports management and encouragement in Britain. It was formed by Royal Charter in 1996 and became "responsible for managing and distributing public investment" within sports (uk sport, 2007). This was an example of Major's "grey" personality that was neither aggressively Right nor Left while Prime Minsister, but rather sailing with the wind in a rather meandering fashion.
Unlike Thatcher, Major was in fact a keen sports fan, with his primary love being cricket and a secondary interest in football. Major seems to have regarded sports as a vital part of British life and, perhaps most importantly, its heritage. Thus it was Major who created the Cabinet position of "Secretary of State for National Heritage" who would be responsible for the new Department of Culture, Media and Sport. In many ways the various embodiments of this position reflected the somewhat tenuous and eventually doomed nature of Conservative power during this period. For example, the short-lived tenure at the psot of David Mellor in 1992 was cut short when he became involved in a scandal in which he supposedly had an affair with the actress Antonia de Sancha, and apparently asked her to wear his Chelsea FC shirt while making love to her (!) (allexperts, 2007). Many within British society apparently did not take the responsibilities ...Show more

Summary

Critically examine how governments attitude and policy towards sport has changed and evolved over the last 25years. Review, contrast and compare the approaches of three styles of government in relation to this policy area-the conservatives under Thatcher and Major followed by Blair's "New Labour"…
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