British success at the Olympics is not just a national achievement, but another triumph for the application of right wing thinking

British success at the Olympics is not just a national achievement, but another triumph for the application of right wing thinking, by Jermeny Warner. First, there was the National Lottery to fund athletes:

Olympic rings

At the time of writing, Britain sits second to the United States in the league table of Olympic medal winners in Rio de Janeiro… In no small measure that’s down to … the establishment of the National Lottery, repeatedly cited by British medal winners in Rio as the key reason for their success.

On the Left, the lottery was at the time widely dismissed in self-righteous terms as a tax on the feckless poor, as if the low paid were incapable of deciding how best to spend or otherwise gamble their money. But Sir John saw it in a different light – as a way of bringing much-needed funding to Britain’s cash starved sports and arts scene.

In almost every respect, the results have been transformational, enabling elite sportsmen and women to train full time to the most exacting of standards across a whole range of disciplines which had previously been the preserve of part-time amateurs. …

At the Atlanta Games in 1996, the UK won just one gold medal … just before lottery funding for elite sport had come on stream.

This time around, UK Sport has ploughed a record £355m – the vast bulk of it lottery money – into preparing British athletes for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

Then there is the method of spending money on winners and cutting losers, the opposite of leftism:

It has done so, moreover, according to an almost brutal, “no compromise”, Darwinian approach to medal winning which owes much to the way that capitalism works in a free-market economy.

Only sports that can demonstrate clear medal potential over an eight year cycle can expect to gain funding. Winners are backed, losers are left behind. …

When it comes to the Olympics, the nation wants the feel-good rewards of success, which it measures in terms of medals. In elite sport, it is the winning that matters, not the participation. Money has therefore been focused on those most likely to deliver results.

In the collectivist approach, by contrast, money is distributed evenly or according to perceived need. Those least likely to succeed tend to be considered the most deserving of support. Almost invariably, the collectivist approach will as a consequence deliver mediocrity over outstanding achievement.

The individualist approach rewards and celebrates success, and thereby generates further successes. The collectivist one sneers at achievement, and penalises its champions. It is the same mentality that wants to soak the rich, and it defies a basic truth about the human condition – that we rely on the successful to drive progress and create the wealth that allows us to have the things we want.

hat-tip Stephen Neil