Will Rio 2016 inspire us in the way London 2012 did?

Will Rio 2016 inspire us in the way London 2012 did?

I’m currently at work preparing a bumper-blog post all about the Olympics for next week. But seeing as we only get the chance to talk about it once every I’m going to start today with a little taster. 

Intuition would suggest that when the Olympics are on we should all be a little more inspired to get out and get moving. Not to mention a Team GB success can boost the popularity of some less popular sports and guarantee them funding for years to come. However, with the advent of on-demand TV services, coupled with the now seemingly old technology of the red button, it is perfectly possible to sit and watch the Games for most of the day.

So what is the reality? Are we motivated to get out and participate in more and more sports? Or do the Olympics simply have us glued to our televisions for just over two weeks?

Well, because we are still in the middle of the Games, it is quite hard to tell. And being Brits, the data that we have in regards to the post-London 2012 effect is unlikely to be seen post-Rio, at least not to the same extent. The Government report on the post-Olympic effect for London has an entire section dedicated to the inspiring impact that the Games had, especially on young children.

And it is young children who we should be focusing on. I don’t deny that if anyone is inspired to become more active, that is a brilliant thing. But if we are talking about the next generation of athletes who will be representing Team GB, then youth is essential. Especially when you consider the age of some of the athletes that have lit up the Games so far this year, particularly in the swimming pool and in the gymnastics centre.

As for older people? We need to recognise that there is a difference, and this applies to young people too, between people who watch the Olympics and are inspired to play badminton for an afternoon and those who use that motivation to participate in a new sport for the foreseeable future. Not to mention, it is somewhat easier to get statistics for people who join a sporting club, as a opposed to somebody who just pops down the park for a kick-about.

I always stress the importance of motivational factors. Those of us within the industry have a responsibility to inspire those who sit outside of it. And therefore anything that helps us with that mission is very much welcome.

Just as Team GB don’t expect to win as many medals in Rio, I think it would be unrealistic to expect participation numbers to see the same increase as in 2012. Equally, because of the more ways to watch, my guess is more people will watch more of the sports this year. Does that make us a nation of couch potatoes? Of course it doesn’t. But if spending an extra hour or so in front of the TV is what it takes to inspire a generation to participate in the wide variety of sports that the Olympics has to offer, then in my opinion it is a price worth paying.

Stay tuned next week to see our bumper-blog post on Rio 2016!

Ollie Lawrence
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