Australia's national swimming coach Alan Thompson is quoted in today's Melbourne Age bemoaning the lack of funding for swimming in the lead up the Olympic Games in London.
No problem with that - all sports deserve a significant lift in funding.
Swimming hardly get preferential treatment in this country, except of course for every Saturday morning when I am accosted by some Lifesavers seeking donations at traffic lights, and except for the huge amount of funding local government pours into building swimming pools and then running them at a massive loss, and except of course for the fact that they remain one of the top funded Olympic sports in this country despite the fact that we only care about our swimmers once every four years.
What is a problem is the asburd comparison Thompson makes in the article. You can read the whole thing here. Here is what he said.
"And there's got to be a rationalisation to work out who you fund, why you fund them and reward the higher performances. As a sport we won 40 per cent of the medals at the Olympic Games and we get 7 per cent of the funding. Football (soccer) gets 7 per cent and they didn't win a medal"
(Although I am certain he'll claim the Age misquoted him.)
There were 104 medals handed out in Bejing for swimming. Australia won 20 of em, thats a very crude 19%.
By comparison the footballl teams won nothin. Thats 0% of the six medals available to football. 0%....crap huh?
The basketballers won a medal, out of the six available to that sport. The hockey girls won a medal (god bless em) out of the six available in that sport.
So they returned close on 17%, but neither are funded as generously as swimming.
But of course its a stupid way to look at the medal count. Lauren Jackson and her "team" can only enter one event. It's called women's basketball. The Hockeyroos can only enter one event as well.
Libby Tricket ended up with four medals, Stephanie Rice with 3...but hang on, they got to enter multiple events.
I wanna see Penny Taylor get a chance for another olympic medal in a free throw shooting contest, or Belinda Snell in a three point shooting competition. Get Koby McGurk taking penalty shots for a gold medal.
On top of that, we only get to enter one team in each event. Australia's second women's basketball side would have been a shot at a top three finish in Beijing (ok that was a very big statement). The swimmers get to double up on their events, except of course for the relays.
Sports are funded for a range of reasons. Football is generously funded because it opens lots of doors overseas for trade and interchange. If it was funded just on results it would get next to nothing. Basketball provides enormous opportunities for us in China...Hockey and Cricket deliver huge outcomes beyond sport in India and Pakistan.
Thompson's sport has a tiny participant base (in terms of club based competitive swimming) and probably that should get factored in as well because his sport is not providing society's health benefits in the way it should.
On that basis alone, soccer deserve the same funding as swimming.....if not vastly more.
Thompson should continue to loby for extra funding, go for it.... but he should do that based on his own sports merits, not by a simple and myopic comparison to others.