Monday, 14 May 2012

One more thing…

OK, I posted an awful lot about the School Games last week, and I enjoyed the event hugely. But I have one more thing to say.

While I was spending the last day angrily chasing all the fencers' equipment (it had been piled up in the rain at some distant car park), the Closing Ceremony included an appearance by a special guest and a little announcement. Fitted between chart-toppers Cover Drive (pop groups are named after cricket strokes now?) and Britain's Got Talent winners Spellbound (a bit cheeky seeing as the thousands of kids in the crowd were they ones who'd demonstrated that they were the ones with talent), up popped Prince bloody Harry:

Prince Harry has become President of the Sainsbury’s School Games, the Government announced today as the finals of the inaugural competition drew to a close.
The Prince will use his support to highlight the role that competitive sport can play in the development of young people, regardless of their background.

Apart from the naked exercise of power ('the Government announced': so much for the Games' autonomy), does it not strike anyone else as massively ironic, if not totally inappropriate? Every single young athlete got to the games by working incredibly hard to improve him or herself. Constant practice, often overcoming incredible odds: all things to which the young prince is a total stranger.

Yet the Government decides that the public face of the School Games should be someone who had the great fortune to be born into untold riches, privilege and rank. What does he know of struggle, hard work and dedication to achieving goals through sheer effort? Were there no actual athletes available? Presumably the 'regardless of their background' is a reference to the prince's own background: as far as I know, the only 'sports' in which he engaged were the Eton Wall Game and blasting as many overfed pheasants from the sky as possible.

Still, perhaps competitive sport will enable him to 'develop' in some way… and not just through the public relations boost this appointment is designed to achieve.

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