SPORT DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNANCE

Sport and entertainment is an important aspect of social culture in every nation. Governments heavily invest in sports and entertainment because the two are instrumental in uplifting the image of a nation (Grix & Carmichael 2012). In the United Kingdom, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport formulated a new sporting philosophy just on the brink of preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games (London Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008a). The sports authorities diverted its focus from using sport as a social intervention to fostering excellence and performance in sport. Change of strategy implied change of policies (Lyle 2009). In respect, taxpayers have their say on the best strategy that should be adopted by considering economic feasibility of every policy. The social policies of 2002 and 2008 are conflicting in a number of agendas. ‘Game Plan’ aimed at combating social exclusion through sport while ‘Playing to Win’ represented a new era aimed at social inclusion (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b).

The latest plan sought for getting more people to participate in sports out of love for the game. The proposed plan was seen as a way of expanding the pool of talent among English sportspersons in a way that would make them more competitive in tournaments while representing their country (Lyle 2009). ‘Playing to Win’ was the vehicle through which sports authorities aimed at overarching their strategies while working with stakeholders from different sporting landscapes in order to oversee the development of a nation full of world-class talents with major delivery bodies joining efforts to effectively share their vision (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b). ‘Game Plan’ was different in that it was meant to lay out framework for development and trigger both research context and action plan to shape sport in the country as a social instrument by mitigating social exclusion (Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS]/Strategy Unit 2002). This could be achieved by providing tailored opportunities, largely on the basis of claims articulated in the report tabled by Social Exclusion Units. British tax payers reacted differently to the latest policy of ‘Playing to Win’, which is largely about more people in the country having access and garnering benefits from competitive sports. Similar situation is concerning ‘Game Plan’ since it is focused on potential contribution of sport to neighborhood renewal as well as skirmishing social exclusion while fostering efforts to deal with social inequality that was deeply rooted in British society.

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Purpose and Target Groups

The action plan set for ‘Playing to Win’ policies portrayed strong commitment in financing the course for sport’s sake. On the other hand, ‘Game Plan’ emphasized the active value of sport presumed to be related to contribution to education, health, employment, and reduction of crime rate (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b). The latter plan reflected government agenda of developing sport within the confines of community, while the former evidenced the development of communities through sport as the main tool. ‘Game Plan’ was a strategy that was given back to tax payers in communities by using sport to increase quality of their lives. Hence, every of their last coin spent on sport could be beneficial in the long run (Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS]/Strategy Unit 2002). ‘Playing to Win’ has shown fewer benefits to taxpayers compared to its counterpart policy. It mainly focused on improving the image of the nation at the expense of its citizens. Therefore, ‘Game Plan’ is economic friendly to the taxpayers and instrumental in eradicating such factors that drain country’s economy as crime and unemployment.
In distribution of resources, British taxpayers would have different views considering the effect of the two strategies. ‘Playing to Win’ allows devolving large portion of lottery income to sports authorities at national level (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b).

Consequently, their influence in matters of governance would improve, while their ability to deliver on potentials of communities in sport or property accounts, as far as distribution of public resources is concerned, is uncertain (Grix & Carmichael 2012). ‘Game Plan’ policy is different in that it was established for the purpose of enhancing sports at grassroots level. The former strategy meant that the country could garner many achievements with little revenue from tax payers’ money. When individuals in communities are given opportunities and encouraged to take part in sports and physical activities, the reality of improving quality of health comes true (Lyle 2009) because keeping fit is a preventive mechanism to having a non-communicable diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardio-vascular issues (McCartney et al. 2010). It means that the plan enables the government to invest in sport and community health simultaneously. The move is not only economical for tax payers but also easy to implement. Also, increasing sports activity in communities would have positive influence on education (Murphy & Bauman 2007). According to developmental theory, participation in sports and many other extracurricular activities exposes a student, who may end up reinforcing his/her academic goals, to healthy social relations such as the ones with achievement-oriented peers (Girginov & Hills 2008). It also enhances popularity and visibility of a student that can improve education performance (Murphy & Bauman 2007). On the other hand, ‘Playing to Win’ encourages investment in talented individuals who can compete strongly in international platforms and uplift the image of the country. It is a good strategy with one big fault, which is using a lot of financial resources to improve sporting standards of a selected few in community. In the long run, the strategy is likely to strain British taxpayers because the health of communities would have been slowly neglected at large.

Sports Development Vision

The main purpose of formulating ‘Game Plan’ policies was to create social value for all sport’s participants, while ‘Playing to Win’ was focused on the improvement of country’s capacity in competitive sports. This makes the two poles opposite in terms of purpose and domain. ‘Game Plan’ was fundamentally based on inequality, while ‘Playing to Win’ concentrated on a chase for social equality. British taxpayers are more interested in policies that foster equity rather than equality (McCartney et al. 2010). Equity ensures that every person gets a chance and opportunity to build his/her talent and participate in sport regardless of prevailing limits such as poverty, physical challenges, level of education, class, race, and personal abilities (Charlton 2010). Equality means that each person warrants his/her participation in sport based on individual merits with those failing to meet the expected mark missing out on opportunities. It is crystal clear that ‘Game Plan’ champions social equity, while ‘Playing to Win’ advocates equality. Tax payers would gain short-term benefits from social equality, but they also gain from social equity in the long run.

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British taxpayers aim at getting better deliveries without increasing the amount of tax collected. ‘Game Plan’ laid out procedures for a number of organizational reforms to improve the quality of services, reduce bureaucracy, and, in turn, push authorities towards ensuring that participants in sports and physical activities receive enough financial support. The capacity of major organizations in both governing bodies and public sector is increased through acquisition of new skills, and it, in some cases, increases the availability of resources (Charlton 2010). In achieving this, there had to be a clear demarcation of responsibilities and an acceptance in giving room for effective partnerships (Girginov & Hills 2008). In other words, the strategy further encourages partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose main work is based upon communities. NGOs do not depend on tax payers’ money. Thus, when their activities are increased in communities through sports, the heavy tax burden on communities is removed. ‘Playing to Win’ means that the government would have to improve performance of athletes at all costs without having to strengthen sporting organizations and passing reforms. In the long run, it increases tax burden on British taxpayers; hence, the former strategy seems suitable in empowering communities without increase in tax collection.

Conflicting Evidence

The two policies connect in pursuit for greater participation in sports and many other physical activities. ‘Playing to Win’ aimed at setting new records in 2012 Olympic Games with an increased level of participation in physical activity across the country. The governing body wanted to ensure that an additional 2 million individuals become more active by 2012 (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b). Nevertheless, considering the reports from Commonwealth Games in 2002, there is no evidence of the plan impacting on participation. These reports point out that benefit can only accrue when better and more integrated plans of development strategy are implemented (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b). The reports also indicate that ‘Game Plan’s strategies were hardly successful following poor participation between 2006 and 2008 (London Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008a). During this period of time, only an increase of 1% was registered, which is only half of the expected rate. Considering poverty levels, 30% of children and 24% of the adults in the United Kingdom were poor in accordance with the standards set by European Union, thus greatly limiting their participation in sports activities (London Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008a). The possibility of meeting participation targets of 2012 and 2020 is inconceivable unless major changes are implemented in resource management and policies. To strike the required targets, the plan would have to incorporate ways of reaching out to lower-paid people who are in the lower participating groups. Therefore, ‘Playing to Win’s policies seem unsustainable in the long run because results do not match the total investments injected in implementing those policies.

Context of the Policy

After publication of the two policies, ‘Game Plan’ was unpicked on the basis of its participation aspirations for academics and policymakers. The occurrence was due to comparison of participation noted through ‘Game Plan’ in the United Kingdom to participation in Finland. Ministers drew a comparison with Finland which has a totally different society from the British one. Finland has a society with small gaps in class and gender, high taxes, high wages, and high benefits pumped into the economy (McCartney et al. 2010). This provides Finland with strong support for its sporting sector and has unified anti-smoking policies, nutrition, and diet for more than two decades. On the other hand, Britain is a country characterized by low taxes, low wages, and low benefits being pumped into the economy (Girginov & Hills 2008). Consequently, Britain has bigger inequalities and modest resources to inject in sport, culture and separate health policies (Lyle 2009). The ‘Playing to Win’ strategy is meant to connect the sporting landscape with activities performed by different government departments such as Department of Transport and Department of Health. This is fueled by the fact that sport plays a vital role in helping people reduce obesity through continuous exercises and physical activities (Grix & Carmichael 2012). The strategy ensures that sports sector continues working at local level in partnership with Primary Care Trusts and other groups in order to provide coordinated delivery of sports.

Rationales

Expenditures under ‘Playing to Win’ and ‘Game Plan’ have all been different. In London 2012 Olympics, more than £400 million was spent compared to £125 million spent in developing sports community when ‘Game Plan’ was in action in 2007 (London Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008a). This former strategy influenced strengthening of institution in communities. It is important to note that every country is as strong as its institutions are. For instance, the implementation of the plan ensured that 86% of children aged between 5 and 16 would participate in sport and physical education every week. Thus, this woul lead to the employment of three thousand community sports coaches, ninety competition managers, more than three thousand two hundred secondary coordinators, and over eighteen thousand primary link teachers (Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS]/Strategy Unit 2002). More than £1.5 billion was spent on implementing greater part of the ‘Game Plan’ by 2007. The results of implementation of these strategies empowered communities in such a way that individual talents could be identified, and the country had world-leading communities in sports (Charlton 2010). ‘Playing to Win’ strategy saw the government doing lesser of community development but investing more money on construction of world-leading infrastructures at the expense of British tax payers. It is possible to have the best training facilities in the world but lack competitive athletes who can carry the banner of the nation to the top ranks (Lyle 2009). The latter plan led to the formation of three bodies that coordinate with other partners, namely Youth Sport Trust, UK Sport, and Sport England (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2008b). Some of the partners include Central Council for Physical Recreation and Sports Coach UK (Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS]/Strategy Unit 2002). In fact, local authorities invest more than £1 billion annually to make provisions for sports (Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS]/Strategy Unit 2002). Therefore, it is crystal clear that ‘Playing to Win’ is an obsessive strategy aimed at creating immediate success in sport in a way that has burdened British tax payers by increasing expenditures. Instead, ‘Game Plan’ is a conservative strategy that focuses on long-term benefits by sacrificing immediate successes and achieving much with substantive expenditures (McCartney et al. 2010).

Conclusion

This paper compared ‘Game Plan’ and ‘Playing to Win’ sports policies from the perspective of British tax payer. ‘Playing to Win’s policies are the most recent and come with huge financial costs because great percentage of revenues go to development of sophisticated sports infrastructures rather than financing many community programs. British taxpayers are pleased when their taxes are injected in programs that empower their communities and environments such as health, education, and peaceful coexistence through sports rather than building national image during sport and entertainment events with a selected few (talented athletes) while leaving majority as mere spectators. Therefore, British taxpayers are best served with ‘Game Plan’ because of its inclusive strategies and ways of bringing equity rather than equality.

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