Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Is Newham's Olympic legacy just another kebab in front of the telly?
According to a report by the physical fitness think tank UKactive, the London borough of Newham, principal hosts of the 2012 Olympics, has reaped little sport participation benefit from all that much vaunted Olympic legacy. Newham residents are less physically active than anyone else in the country with almost 40% failing to get half an hour per week of moderate exercise. The report goes on to point out the disparity in exercise and sport participation between deprived and affluent parts of the country. As far as London is concerned Richmond is at the opposite end of the scale to Newham with only 16.3% of residents failing to hit the 30 minutes a week mark. Anyone who knows anything at all about wealth disparity will not be surprised at this as in just about every indicator from life expectancy to mental health to obesity it's the poor who are, by definition, worse off. What is less clear is why something as rewarding but inexpensive as physical exercise is so unpopular in more deprived arrears. I suspect that answers to this conundrum will depend on political outlook. The poor are lazy, lack of facilities, poverty induced depression and inertia, bad diet, multiple low paid jobs leaving little time or energy for sports; all these are likely responses. As far as Newham is concerned it might be more useful, rather than looking at the non-active 40%, to find out what motivates the moderately active 60% and the no doubt much smaller number who are very active indeed. One thing is beyond dispute. This country's 2012 Olympians were disproportionately drawn from the privately educated well of sections of society. What kind of incentive is that for kids from the estate?