UK Sport has been accused of elitism and helping to sustain those sports who are targeted at the rich rather than the many. It comes as British Basketball prepares to deliver its pitch to the agency on Wednesday, described as an “informal appeal” to its board, to restore some of the funding which has been removed to support the national teams.
It is understood that performance director Chris Spice and chairman Roger Moreland will have 15 minutes to deliver a response which will be expected to make a compelling case for a re-think, before taking questions from the floor.
A decision, confirmed UK Sport officials, will made within 48 hours with sports retaining the right to engage a formal appeals process through Sport Resolutions, a recognised intermediary, within 28 days.
However veteran England international Andrew Bridge has warned that those in the room must argue that the apparent bias against basketball – one which fails to recognise the sport’s popularity while rewarding a number of elitist sports whose participants are drawn largely from the private school system.
Rowing, sailing and equestrianism are among those who have been awarded funding increases for the 2013-2017 period. However an analysis of Team GB shows that 70% of British competitors in equestrianism at London 2012 went to fee-paying schools, 54% did so in rowing, and 50% in sailing, compared to a national average of just 7% who are educated outside the state sector, including most of our basketball teams.
And it has led many, Bridge included, to question the validity of those like England’s Sports Minister Hugh Robertson who claim sports like basketball – with a wider demographic – have little value.
“It’s very disappointing, and it’s such a short-sighted view because everyone in the Government and media harps on about society and its problems – basketball has been a way of trying address those problems,” said Bridge, who is about to take up a post at the Youth Sports Trust.
“If UK Sport is going to base things only on performance by the elite team, then that’s the case. But they’ve just wasted £9 million on the Olympic teams because we were never going to become world-beaters in six years, and there are other sports who are perceived to have failed who are still getting funding.
“But we should be getting funding based on participation. We are getting far less than rugby despite having more kids playing it, and it seems like we’ve been hit on both fronts. Basketball is a game played by kids all over the country.
“No matter how many medals we win in modern pentathlon or rowing, it isn’t leading to many kids getting on a horse or jumping in a boat.”
Over 11000 signatories have now been obtained on a petition which asks the UK government to re-think its policy on basketball funding.
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