Team GB are Britain’s most popular sports outfit, so how do we get people to watch? | Sean Ingle

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THey, they were celebrating in Britain at the annual celebration of the Olympic stars. Team GB Ball at the Savoy on Thursday. As they always do. And that experience will only be magnified when the Paris Olympics roll around eight months later. A number of medals will be awarded. Gushing editorials are written. Once again, the viewing figures will be huge.

Would you be surprised to know that recent YouGov research shows that Team GB are the most popular sports team in the UK – second only to England’s female footballers? Or that Team GB consistently ranks high on the list of most-loved public institutions in the UK, behind the NHS and emergency services? As I did not suspect.

But I can’t help but think back to my earlier conversation at the Savoy with Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic triathlon gold and silver medalist Alex Yee. The 25-year-old, who is as intelligent as he is, was talking about his special time in Japan. It wasn’t Honor Much to his surprise, he told him. After seeing it on TV, children were hearing about “triathlons” in their own back gardens the day after, with the help of paddling pools, miniature bikes and their own imaginations.

Then came the kick. “I am interested in growing the sport,” he said. “It’s certainly a shame that the BBC reported less about it. In fact, World Triathlon now has a paywall to watch an event. But I want everyone to watch, enjoy and be inspired by our sport.

Triathlon is far from alone. Most of the sports under the Team GB banner are in a similar loose boat. For two weeks every four years, we celebrate these athletes as superheroes. Then we forget about them. A good part of that lies in the dominance of football, a behemoth that siphons oxygen from other sports in its path. While many Olympic sports have been slow to adapt to the changing media landscape, it doesn’t help that young people are drawn to clips on social media.

Even so, it touches on something I’m hearing more and more in British sports circles: growing frustration with the BBC’s coverage of Olympic sports – online and on TV – calling the games off. And then, when he has the rights to events, he very often drags them behind the red button.

Why choose the BBC? Because like other British media it has public money and public service remit. Beyond football and other major sports, he has not only to expand his love and passion, but also a duty. One administrator I spoke to described it as “license fee treason”, but even those who wouldn’t go that far ask why the BBC throws so much at the Olympics but so little at the stories before and after.

It is true that the BBC’s budget is under pressure. As outgoing sports director Barbara Slater, He told MPs last week.TV rights to blue ribbon events such as the Six Nations have more than doubled over the past decade, yet the corporation’s budget has actually fallen by 30%. However, there is no such premium when it comes to many Olympic sports.

Andy Murray will lead Team GB at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony but so many Olympic sports struggle between games. Photograph: Martin Ricketts/PA

No one should doubt the magnifying effect of live sports on the bib. Or how it acts as a signal to print and other media that this event is important. The Guardian always gets a big boost in traffic for the World Athletics Championships. Partly because people care, but also because millions watch it on the BBC.

Of course, as UK sport gets around £100m a year of public and lottery money to fund our Olympic athletes and inspire the country, it’s a little strange that politicians don’t want more money for their coffers. It would be unreasonable to put pressure on the corporation to cover more Olympic sports for once.

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Indeed, would it be so strange for the BBC to consider having its own sports channel, especially in a world with the likes of Viaplay Xtra and SportyStuffHD on Sky Box? What’s not to love about the combination of live sports and classic sports footage from the deep archives?

Perhaps the time for that is after London 2012. However, Mike Cavendish, British Triathlon’s most respected performance director, doesn’t think so. “We still have superstars leading the world in many different events,” he said. “So the opportunity is still there.”

There is no denying that athletes have to do a lot to promote themselves and their sport. Many do not realize that it is not just competing with their rivals, but other forms of entertainment. It is not enough to play a good game; You should talk too. This is what builds interest and competition.

However, like other Olympians, Ye’s skills undoubtedly deserve a huge audience. He also does his work: a typical Wednesday, for example, starts at 6:30 a.m. for a 6.5-kilometer swim set that takes an hour and 45 minutes, followed by a four-hour bike ride and a 45-minute run. . Oh and a 75 minute gym session in the evening.

No wonder he sleeps well at night. At the same time, there is a break. He wants to inspire many people. But to do this, they must first see him in action.



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