During the Olympic and Paralympic Games the country came perilously close to running out of superlatives. And that was hardly surprising.
In the wake of the whole triumphal victory of organisation, sporting, discipline, economic, inspirational and cultural fronts, MBF Blog launches a series of occasional blogs about sports and technology as a contribution to the significance of the sports/technology interface.
All Talk Is of the Legacy
After all the excitement and inspiration from both the Olympic Games and the Paralympics,
sport is not just high on the national agenda, it’s acknowledged as an essential part of the national fabric. The success of individuals, teams and their coaches has been phenomenal, and more people are, at least for now, actively trying new sports.
The Games’ legacy or legacies are preoccupying many planners and a sizeable chunk of the media now. At one level it’s as simple as how should we reward and recognise incredible British men and women on and in tracks, fields, horses, boats, pools, rings for their achievements? What about the volunteer game-makers, police, military and security, the media, the health workers, the transport staff?
At the other end it touches on both political and economic agendas. Are there enough sports facilities? Is enough being done in schools and clubs to identify and encourage the next generation of sporting greats? Are there benefits and incentives enough in place to help those with various kinds of handicap to overcome their difficulties?
The real legacy will be in the memories of each individual who was gobsmacked by some event, moment, camera shot, comment or thrill. For Cole Moreton writing in the Sunday Telegraph Sports Life Magazine (16 September 2012), Oscar Pistorius’s victory in a five year fight to be allowed to compete among able-bodied athletes as well as Paralympians, was the most profound moment.
He said, ‘The summer of 2012 made us look again at ourselves and the people around us and realise how amazing humans can be. But a man with no legs running in an Olympic race? Few things are more amazing than that.’
The Technological Games
The triumph of artificial limbs employing the latest manufacturing technology was on display. But it was other technical state-of-the-art devices that impressed. Timings, starts and finishes, all using latest digital precision. Trackside and line recording now makes sports rules easier to enforce fairly.
And the analysis of statistics! Impressive to behold, but driven by programs that are now standard. The point is that all the advantages of the digital panoply are available and are exploited to the full. People would expect nothing less. And even that so many sports could be watched simultaneously on the BBC through a bewildering choice of channels and media, salvaged much BBC reputation and made more taxpayers accepting of what they achieve.
It was also the technology of the rowing and sailing boats, the bikes, the blades and the remarkable medicine that has repaired people, nurtured them to the peak of health. Yes, 2012 was the summer that technology played its proper part.
The Bandwagon Effect
Naturally enough, now the dust is settled, all sorts of people and organisations are trying to jump on the bandwagon and say that their particular pet project is a real Olympic/Paralympic legacy and needs investment, priority and public attention.
One, perhaps with a real claim to a sense of government urgency, came in Tech Track, with the Sunday Times (16 September), when Hiscox Managing Director Steve Langan called for a new generation of tech entrepreneurs to be as inspired as sports fans are.
East London’s ‘Tech City’ potentially holds the possibility to overtake California’s Silicon Valley in the next 20 years. It’s acknowledged within Government as ‘a very good thing’ and it’s apparently the easiest thing to get into the Prime Minister’s diary – anything to do with Tech City.
Moves are afoot to open the London Stock Exchange to more technology companies, helping investors back more fast-growing British tech enterprises and research to support it. This hub is a platform with the right planning policies, transport and infrastructure and some early successes.
However, Langan called for the Government to do more to push it, not just grandstanding for photo opportunities. He yearns for the British tech industry to ‘dream bigger dreams’ just as on the sporting stage.
Amen to that.