Is top sport becoming suicidal?

Richard MitchellFIFA is caught in a huge soccer scandal with massive financial corruption being investigated. Every week there are yet more, tedious Premiership controversies about conduct on and off the football field.

International athletics has to prove itself free from serious allegations of doping, undermining previous and current competitions, including the Olympics.

The England rugby union team is going through a torrid time of self-examination, reflecting the confusion about styles of leadership in sport.

Legal procedures are continuing into evidence of match-fixing in world cricket.

It seems that astronomical sums of money in top sport, management structures that don’t work in providing accountability and clear direction, and a success at all costs culture is taking top level sport off the rails.

Who can drive through a reform and renewal culture before trust is fatally undermined?

Thank God love of money and worldy success aren’t Christian values or virtues. The Church has been guilty of these things and may still need to repent, but, the figure of Jesus no-where reflects the modern desire of our need for financial gain and public acclaim that appears to be driving top sport. In that sense, ‘the boy done good’.

Can the values of trust, loyalty, enjoyment and enrichment to community, avoid complete relegation in international sport in the future?

Many good spectators know that some of the best sporting events are not the ones featuring the best players or the ones where your team wins.

The Revd Canon Richard Mitchell, Vicar of Shurdington, Badgeworth and Witcombe with Bentham.


British Values?

The headteacher said: “We’ve got to do assemblies on British Values – can you do one for us?  We’ve done Churchill and Wellington, but seem to have left out Shakespeare.” Well, I wasn’t sure that those three really were ‘British Values’ however you define them, but I also wasn’t sure what a British Value was anyway!  It seemed I wasn’t alone – the staff had thought that passing the problem onto the vicar might solve their inability to work out what we were supposed to be celebrating and promoting. Pity the government hadn’t thought of that one.

Perhaps standing in queues is a British Value, or always apologising even when it clearly isn’t your fault? Anyway, what primary age children have a well developed sense of is when something is fair or not. You’ll soon be told “Sir, that’s not fair!” if you transgress.

The whole sorry affair of FIFA and Sepp Blatter is an illustration of lack of being fair worked out at international level. There is no doubt that FIFA under Blatter’s presidency enabled major developments in access to sport in Africa and India to my knowledge, and probably other areas as well.  European and British criticism does not play well given the undeniable level of corruption present in some areas of the game close to home.  Yet the level of alleged bribery, sweeteners and excessive hospitality could have provided twice the resources delivered.

The reason why corruption and bribery is not fair is because it is always the poor, the marginalised and those with no voice who end up without. If being fair is a British Value then we ought to export it more. The Old Testament prophets will be cheering us on.

The Revd Canon Dr Mike Parsons, Priest-in-Charge, St Oswald Coney Hill with St Aldate