Just as in sport, the selectors play an important role in government inquiries. Who gets given the job determines the outcome. So when a government asks a group largely representative of major team sports to determine where the emphasis of sporting policy should be put, that government should not be surprised that major team sports get the favoured nod. So it has come to pass with the so called Independent Sport Panel Report released by the Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis yesterday.
Consider the independence of these panel members:
David Crawford: BHP Billiton director who was commissioned by the AFL to review the structure of the code which led to the creation of an independent commission to oversee its development before helping the government by chairing the Soccer Review Committee into the structure, governance and Management of Soccer in Australia.
Mark Bouris: The Wizard businessman whose company was a major sponsor of rugby league and who is himself ia Board member of Sydney Roosters Rugby League Club.
Sam Mostyn (BA, LLB): Who in 2005 was appointed as the AFL’s first female Commissioner.
Pamela Tye: Who had a long association with the Australian Women’s Hockey Association before her appointment as the inaugural President of Hockey Australia.
Colin Carter: A senior adviser to the Boston Consulting Group who is chairman of the AFL Foundation.
The emphasis of the report by these five has earned the considerable ire of the Australian Olympic Committee for downplaying the importance of funding for minor sports that compete in the Olympic Games. The flavour is very much that there should be a non-elitist approach in sports funding that concentrates on expanding participation among the whole population.
Doctrinally that approach will have some appeal within the Labor Party but Kevin Rudd will be very foolhardy if he takes any notice of it. Sport in Australia is about far more than physical fitness for the masses. It is a source of national pride for the masses and the politician who forgets it will be sorry.