Sports have been promoted in the United Kingdom as a modern public sector service by successive governments. (Henry. 2001, 19). Being a competitive activity between individuals, groups and states, it is but natural that sports will come within the purview of state policy for smooth promotion as well as to ensure steady growth of sporting abilities in the country to generate a strong feeling of nationhood through better performance in international competitions. Governments thus invariably indulge in formulating sports policies that will earn laurels for the individual and the country in the international arena. Sports policies are also deemed significant to ensure equity in dispensation to afford equal opportunities for weaker sections of society. Notwithstanding the above, it is commonly noticed that public policy is influenced by practical politics, power relations, resources and technical considerations. (Veal.2002, 11).
United Kingdom has been at the forefront of sports over the years. The famous quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the sports fields of Eton and Harrow has justifiably highlighted the importance of sports in British national life. The UK sports policy is contained in Game Plan: A Strategy for Delivering Government's Sports and Physical Activity Objectives developed by the UK Strategy Unit under the British Prime Minister's Office published in 2002. (Game Plan, 2002). The policy and strategy laid down in this document has been followed up rigorously and is reviewed every year. The salient facets are discussed as per succeeding paragraphs.
Game Plan: A Strategy for Delivering Government's Sports and Physical Activity Objectives
The importance to sports policy in general and the policy document in particular is evident with the Foreword being written by the Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair. Mr. Blair highlights the significance of sports as a powerful tool to achieve a number of goals for governments and the need for being adequately equipped to take advantage of the means for nation building. (Game Plan, 2002). The Report has been focused as per Blair on the importance of increasing grass roots participation in sports for health benefits so that the current health costs of 2bn a year or 54,000 lives lost prematurely could be cut down. A government - sports bodies partnership is sought to be created to achieve these aims. (Game Plan, 2002). The Prime Minister has also highlighted the need to cut down on sports bureaucracy. The focus is on the younger generation and it is envisaged that at least 75 percent youth should participate in sports in the coming years. The Secretary Of State RT Hon Tessa Jowell has also emphasized the need for greater focus on participation in sports as only 32 percent of adults in England were doing more than 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week which is the recommendation of health professionals. (Game Plan, 2002). The disparity in the population with limited participation by the lower income groups and fall in involvement with increasing age has been noted with concern. Ms Jowell has bench marked British performance with nations as Finland and Australia which have a large participation in sports and also one which is increasing with age. Britain's performance has been highlighted as the best in Olympics since 1920, with world champions in more than 50 sports but most of these are not in sports carrying a high profile