by Jennifer Valentine-Miller via Evening Standard
The biennial Sport Relief Initiative, run by the BBC’s Comic relief since 2002, has done much to combat deprivation. Its success highlights the central role that sport plays in our culture but has also laid bare problems that arise from the lack of opportunities which prevents many people from playing sport. Watching the football in the pub is all very well but is vital to the nation’s health that people can get involved in sport beyond being a spectator.
Obesity levels have made the UK the “fat man of Europe”.
In London, childhood obesity is a particular problem: figures last year showed one in five children are classed as very “overweight” by the time the leave primary school. Sport is one way to help fix things. It can also do much more than promoted better physical health. It can also do much more than promote better physical health: it can improve concentration levels; it can encourage interpersonal skills; it can bring joy to the dispirited.
The rise of multi channel television, easy internet access and endless social media mean that sport has much to compete against. The short-sighted sell-off by councils of school playing fields in years past has hardly helped matters. So to those taking part in events to raise money for Sport Relief “good luck”. To those who choose to be a sponsor “dig deep”.