More silly comparisons

Just read this article in a German paper where the advertisements a Formula 1 driver can wear on his suit is compared to the fact that swimmers are not allowed to wear advertisements.

That is really the height of illogical arguments.

Compare the amount of space to advertise on from a F1 driver, who is actually covered in fabric, to that of a male swimmer, who wears a tiny bit of cloth around the loin.

How much advertising can go on such a trunk?

I think the swimming and commercialisation debate needs to find a useful consensus and not wildly speculate on the worst comparisons.

The article in Frankfurter Allgemeine compares a swimmer to an ice dancer. Again a useless comparison as an ice dancer can be seen for a prolonged period of time by a large amount of viewers. I remember having spent hours on a Saturday afternoon to watch the ice dance competitions, but swimming is not on for that amount of time and would not attract the same viewers, just like tennis, football or boxing.

I spend a large amount of time near the London Aquatic Centre, located right next to the West Ham stadium. The thousands of people going past the LAC to a football games, compares to a tiny number of people who come to visit a swimming competition.

There is little commercial viability in sponsoring swimmers as much as footballers.

Swimmers spend the most time, they are on-screen, under water. The only time they are able to carry advertisement on them, would be for most of them on the coat or dressing gown they wear prior to the swim or on their cap.

As even Adam Peaty rightly remarked, swimming doesn’t have such a large viewing audience that would make the advertising very viable for companies to pay large amounts for.

Of course some athletes do get sponsorship from companies, which is largely not visible but then there is little point in making it known other than by the sponsors themselves. There are swimmers who get free cars or other perks, which is not widely known.

Katinka Hosszu is one of the most quoted athletes causing grief to FINA over the inability to make money from performance swimming. Yet Katinka has a very viable company in her country, with a commercial website, has an enormous status and sells her own branded merchandise.

I am not sure about Michael Phelp’s reaction to the debate but he is another great example to show how the swimming can create a successful world-wide brand, that sells swimming equipment.

This sparring with FINA is not helping the sport, a sport that relies largely on voluntary involvement to make it happen in the first place.

How many free volunteers swimmers think they can get if the swimmers all earn money from the swims but the volunteers have to work for free?

 

grateful for what?

I am quite upset that some voices asking for remuneration for swimming are getting louder. I have also heard people complaining of getting exploited for being officials.

Lets just start at the beginning.

First of all we are not in China, in China, children get selected by the state and get forced into some sports in state sponsored schools. For them sports become a professional path, which is pre-determined by the state and the state benefits from the athlete. I do not know how they get rewarded in China.

Here in the UK, we do have a different system and I really do not want that Chinese system, even though some very prominent swimmers now want to force a professionalisation of the sport of swimming. But to make children into professionals they would have to start very young and be forced into the sport whether they want it or not.

Now I thank our democracy that we do have a choice.

Why do people swim? Mostly people start as children because parents decide it would be a good hobby for the child/ren.

Kids love the sport and go to training, get better and faster. It suits the family, the kids are happy, they are off the street and engaged in a healthy sport.

Now, contrary to China, here in the UK, we have to finance our sport ourselves. Yes, a whole industry has developed around it but that is in reaction to demand, because swimmers need equipment, they need pools, they need coaches.

Most of the finance for the sport comes from parents who pay

  • monthly squad membership, ‘
  • yearly club membership
  • equipment like costumes and training aids
  • competition costs
  • travel costs

Parents want the kids to swim and the kids want to swim and the finance of it all is borne by the parents. Parents even become officials so all swimmers have the chance to swim within the same rules and get a level playing field.

Now those who ask to get paid, I want them to ask themselves, why they are in the sport and if they are in the right sport.

Especially those who already get lots of sponsorship (the swimmers) should just shut up and swim or leave the sport, if they don’t like it and choose one that pays a lot, like boxing or tennis for example.

There are only very few swimmers who do not want to do anything else but swim. For those who have both feet on the ground and whose brain still functions (despite all the swimming), they do know that swimming will always only be a secondary activity besides having a day-job.

But some who never even had a day-job and only ever swam, they probably find it hard to accept reality.

I am really fed up with swimmers and officials alike who think the world owes them a special thanks; we are all in it because we like it and that is how we want to spend our time, if we wouldn’t like it we would be doing something else. Officials make their own choices, go to meets, where they want to help and go there as individuals with a license from British Swimming. Officials do not need to be chaperoned all the time, like they probably do it in countries where people generally have less choices.

No official is ever forced to officiate, they can all walk out and bring a competition to a halt, if they prefer. But most do it first because their own children swim and secondly some keep on doing it after their kids stopped because they like the sport.

People who are chosen to represent their country do get funding to cover living expenses and officials also get costs paid for helping but that is just fair.

For swimmers who literally just spend the whole day in the pool or the gym perhaps British Swimming could put those, at least once a week, into some kind of work placement or give them counselling on ‘life after swimming’ so that the swimmers do not suffer from delusions or mental problems.

The B-tech sport

Whilst with the swimming things go just steadily from training to training session and whilst the shoulder is kind of debilitating, and whilst the legs still work and Madison has to do two sports through the B-tech exam, it stands to reason that Madison uses those body parts that still work.

The legs are ideal for football and Madison has been selected for the school’s girls football team. What a great surprise.

Over the years Madison cut back on all other activities to concentrate on swimming but now another activity has opened up.

Obviously coaches want swimmers to just swim and spend every free minute either at the pool or in land-training or to go gym session to do with the swimming development but the education system has other ideas.

I suppose, when I read that younger people should do as many varied things as possible, the reality is, that all sports want their athletes to concentrate on a particular sport as soon as because an athlete’s peak comes usually about 20 or even younger. The international athletes field is hugely competitive and the most developed nations do their utmost to produce the fastest, strongest, best in whatever discipline possible.

It takes a lot of resilience to stay in any sport and I am questioning that it is possible for any average person to make it in any sport without specialist medical support, which usually costs a lot of money and is not available on the state, at least not in the western world.

Madison currently does get support with her shoulder and sticks to the training but also now has to do some football for a while, whilst the sport b-tech program is being dealt with.

I think that any sport is exercise and does good. And if you look how few athletes actually make it to the very top out of all that are in the clubs and on the competition scene, it just makes you wonder whether you are the one that will be it.

In the end, every sporting person counts towards supporting the ones that make it big because the more competitions we take part in, the more training sessions we do, the more we help each other and somebody somewhere is going to be the top.

 

Cambridge Grand Prix

With Madison’s competition career on hold, we had to take her out of this competition. Everybody says, hurting shoulders need to rest Waiting for Godot, on a hospital appointment, will test our patience, in the truest sense of the word. Ahem patients.

Swimming is a sport for swimmers and swimmers usually are children and it is the children’s parents that keep the sport going, organise the meets, officiate at meets and keep the clubs running. All parents can train as

  • Time keepers
  • J1 or J2 judges
  • J2S starters
  • Referees

It is the biggest volunteering effort and the Big Society of Sport that parents do the work and the swimmers do the swimming. Yet the sport volunteering existed long before the term Big Society was invented very recently.

Even though Madison is not competing, I, as parent, can go and help  with the meet. Cambridge, the City of Cambridge Swimming Club have been marvellous in engaging people to help. Even the most placid of parents, suddenly jump up and want to help in this great occasion.

As it says Cambridge Grand Prix, an event easily associated with the City of Cambridge. Obviously another club that is run in conjunction with the City it is located in.

City_of_London_skyline_from_London_City_Hall_-_Sept_2015_-_Crop_Aligned
By © User:Colin and Kim Hansen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48935921

Yes, we do have London Swimming events, but not as in a club run by the City of London, no, it is a loose conglomerate of independent swimming clubs strewn around the big town. London Swimming is more of a geographical marker and overhead organisation such as Swim England, London branch.

Look at the difference, the rural City of Cambridge at the top and the City of London just above, yet only the rural town can manage to support a Swimming club. London Swimming has no City of London sponsor message on their website.

I think if the City of London would throw their weight behind a swimming club and actively sponsor it, like obviously other towns or cities do, then perhaps the London Aquatic Centre could host a successful London club.

But as it is, the London Aquatic Centre, is again, organised to cater for host-boroughs that are geographically located around the venue. Nothing that says, yes it is our city, our pool, our swimming club, City of London Swimming Club.

City of London SC ???

Building on my last post, it makes only sense and is logical – how I love logic – to think hey, why is there not a City of London Swimming Club?

Looking at the National Selection page of British Swimming, the team base of most selected swimmers have a City name or University / School swim team attached.

We have gotten: 

  • Loughborough
  • Sterling
  • Sheffield 
  • Derby
  • Bath 
  • Swansea
  • Stockport
  • Millfield

amongst others

Yep, you ask, where is London? 

I get constantly requests from the Mayor of London to take part in surveys, none of which has anything to do with swimming.

Incidentally the London Secondary School Swim Team performance is non existent as well. The English School Swimming Association events, have few performers from London Schools. 

Yes, the London Youth Games bring in many swimmers, who are all related to local swimming clubs, yet, London has not managed to produce a London Swimming Club, despite London being the richest City in the country. 

Wonder, how do those other towns / cities manage to fund nationally successful swim teams?

Perhaps London should divide into Quadrants and have several London swimming clubs e.g. North, South, West and East.