The Olympics: Boosting British pride?

Yesterday’s ceremony marked the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games. But what long-term effect will the success of British athletes and the Games as a whole have on the country? We asked Society Fellow Professor Dominic Abrams from the University of Kent for his views.

“Britain’s success in the Olympics should boost people's sense of pride in Britain and their sense of self-esteem when they think of themselves as British. It will also provide a strong motivator for athletes seeking to compete in the next Olympics as it will boost confidence that it is possible to achieve the highest standards.

“On the other hand, this may increase pressure on our athletes, and may also set an impossibly high bar for achievement when there is no home crowd advantage. After the Olympics are over, difficult questions will be raised for the government and for the population.
“The 'Team GB' Olympics brings contrast with the fact that Britain is not, in fact, politically unified. In this context is it really legitimate for an English person to be proud of a Scot's success (rather than, for example, a French person's success as a fellow European)? Are people really more interested in their own country's success than that of GB as a whole?
“In the context of economic stagnation or downturn the glamour and GB success of the Olympics may also begin to contrast with the difficult realities of people's lives and may resent the money invested in the Olympics. It may raise also questions about whether the investment in the Olympics made by the previous government will be squandered because of the effect of public spending cuts on sport in schools and for the general public.
“In summary, although there are probably valuable benefits for pride and prestige, there are also some likely longer-term downsides.”

The latest sports psychology news and features, during the Olympics and Paralympics, can be found on our Going for Gold website.

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