Friday, 8 October 2010

Should major sporting events be available to all? - Written for The Oxford Mail's 'The Issue' column (published Wednesday 13th October 2010)

As a student in South Wales, I was pleasantly surprised at the excitement generated by hosting the Ryder Cup. Despite the weather conditions, golf’s leading event provided quality entertainment for an audience who have been deprived of witnessing this sport close at hand.

Unfortunately, the wider public were less fortunate. Although the BBC offered an excellent highlights package, Sky Sports’ possession of the live broadcasting rights meant that many were limited to radio coverage to catch the latest action. Although some events are destined to be lost to subscription broadcasting due to the huge amounts of money involved (Premier League football, for example), there are certain events that deserve to be available to all.

In a nation that cherishes every hint of sporting glory, it is damaging that we insist on limiting the exposure of sport to the youngsters who could form our future teams.

Following the memorable 2005 Ashes victory (available on Channel 4), attendance at the nation’s cricket clubs increased significantly and we experienced a surge of national pride that the sport had never witnessed before. Regrettably, the next Ashes series will only be available to Sky subscribers and it has been suggested that terrestrial highlights won’t be available at all. In this regard, we are moving backwards rather than progressing in the manner that is required.

If we continue to limit our exposure to sport in this manner, we are doing more damage than the money gained can ever repair.

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