Allardyce on Thatcher

“Since Margaret Thatcher stopped teachers being paid extra money for coaching sports after school, all sporting activities have diminished on a competitive basis.

“Kids are now more obese and unfit than ever. All the prime young athletes we were ready to develop just aren’t there, so we get a lesser quality of player.

“It has not just undermined our game, it has undermined many sports in this country and created an unhealthy child. Thatcher killed football, there is no doubt about it.”

A recent report stated that one in three children in Britain are obese or overweight and that 32 percent of children play less than an hour of sport a week.

In the last 20 years, around 5,000 school playing fields have been sold off or built over as England’s men’s national team have continually floundered in attempts to repeat their 1966 World Cup triumph.

Allardyce, a keen student of sporting education, continued: “Look at how little kids do to what I did. I was a 200 metres runner, a 4x400m relay runner and a triple jumper.

“I was a batsman in cricket, a freestyler in swimming and swam for the town. I did the pommel horse in gymnastics and I was really good on the trampoline, as well as being a footballer.

“Kids don’t do any of that now. All of that sporting activity allowed me to play in the top division in this country.”

From FourFourTwo.

Big Sam is one of the game’s least appreciated good’uns, I think. You wouldn’t want to watch his teams play (even that’s over-egged, I think), but he has a track record of success, and has been an early adapter to much of the game’s changes.  West Ham will be straight back up, I’m sure.

15 thoughts on “Allardyce on Thatcher

      1. As hilarious as the image of him bouncing around on the trampoline, presumably with a look of joy and total unawareness that his would be the last generation to enjoy such privileges. (Joking aside, I take his main point here seriously–Sam though seems unable of making a point w/o playing up his many and varied skills.)

  1. Correlation not causation, dearest Big Sam.

    Same issues here stateside.

    Less and less focus on athletics and personal fitness as time in gym class gets cut in favor of diagramming sentences and learning polynomials (stuff that is easily tested and assessed), along with the increased parental reliance on school to provide breakfast and lunch for students (and the horrible quality of food therein)

    1. Timmy, as an English teacher I can tell you that diagramming is quickly becoming a lost art due to pressures to succeed on standardized tests. But I absolutely agree that physical education is essential and getting the short end of the stick. And those meals they serve the kids… *vurp*

      1. Ah, good call David. What sort of testing is performed in “language arts” now? In my day, wayyyyy back in the late 90s, it was diagramming sentences.

        1. I don’t know an English teacher who has done that for 15-20 years now. You can see the results of it in 99% of the writing of people 40 and younger.

      2. As for the food, maybe we should just bring a British chef over to show local school districts how to serve healthful food? It would be ratings gold I tell ya!!!

  2. big sam – every time he opens his gob, a load of barry white comes out…overweight gobsh*te. well suited to wet spam.

  3. No child does well in sport now unless their parents have time, money and a car. The only kids who can swim in my kid’s class are them and their middle class mates, as swimming lessons are so expensive – that is about five kids out of thirty.
    My daughter does gym, tampoline and fencing. She is currently fifth for her age group in the country in fencing, she is good, but so are we; paying her club fees, for her kit and driving her to competitions from Durham to Portsmouth. When we do this, we are the only parents whose kids are sent to the local comp. rather than a public school.
    85% of ‘our’ Olympians, last time out were from the the 7% who went to fee paying schools.

  4. I agree with Sam on this and especially his point about diversifying the sports kids play. Giving every calibre of athlete a chance to test their skills and try other sports can only improve their primary sport. Take an excellent footballing prospect at an early age. If you constantly pound it into him that to be the best, you have to repeat boring drills 12 months of the year. Focussing solely on one sport can wear down on an excellent player and maybe even take that spark away from his game. Use that interest and talent and broaden it to include other athletic disciplines and chances are when that player is on the pitch, he’ll be that much happier to be playing his sport of choice. Include the fact that the time spent playing these other sports will help develop other skills and types of movement that can only be beneficial to a top athlete. So to invest in athletics across the spectrum is common sense for so many reasons, including developing top footballers (or whichever major sport you can name).

    Anyway, I apologize for the tangent! I agree completely with Sam on making athletics available for everyone, especially young people.

  5. But then you have the intellectuals, the classroom teachers, and others bemoaning that the children aren’t getting enough time in class. Schools that have athletic success, in many cases, do so at the expense of academics. Every state in the U.S. has a high school, in almost every enrollment classification that seeks to dominate; everyone knows, parents enroll their kids to be a part of it. The rest of the schools, raise a ruckus about the students not performing academically.

    It’s really a two-edged sword. And no one lets their kids out to simply play on the streets anymore as we’re all concerned about abductions and other threats; especially since they have so much to entertain them in the house. So then, the only sport-play they get is seasonal at the local playground, UNLESS, as has been said, parents really push the kids, and try to get them in elite, year-round competition, which I think is harmful in some ways.

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