Like most people I have been watching the Olympics as much as possible, drinking in the glory of our incredible British athletes, and satisfying my love of all sport by admiring the great and the good (and in some cases, the greatest) performing at the top of their game in front of the largest global audience ever. Part of my enjoyment from the 30th Olympiad comes down to the choice that we have been offered by the BBC, streaming every sport live online and on the Red Button. I have watched Handball, Volleyball, Water Polo, Shooting, Archery, Canoeing, and almost every form of Swimming and Athletics, adoring being able to watch sports that I normally have no contact with.
A lot has been made of the “legacy” of the Olympics, and how it should come about. Of course great efforts should be made to preserve the new infrastructure and keep as many of the Olympic venues as full as possible, but there is also another way to secure the legacy of sport and encourage participation at all levels – free-to-air coverage of little-watched sports.
Look at the excitement and enthusiasm that has been on display towards sports like Handball and Volleyball (both Beach and otherwise). If there were a dedicated BBC channel towards sports that Sky haven’t already bought up, I believe it would be a huge success. Being able to watch these sports for free would generate more interest in them, driving up participation and enabling the British population to easily keep up an interest in the sports that they have fallen in love with over the past two weeks. Sky has bought football, cricket and a lot of rugby, allowing only those who can afford it to view them, and souring those sports with an influx of addictive cash that the BBC could never replace; why not show smaller sports, get more people involved, and have a better chance at being competitive at future Games? After all, that’s what the whole idea of Legacy is supposed to be about.