The serious business of sport

Tue 09 Dec 2014

Blog - By Nick Isles, Deputy Principal, Milton Keynes College.

Sport is about an awful lot more than fun and games.

I had the enormous pleasure of taking part in the annual SportsAid celebrations run by Milton Keynes Sporting Lunch Club last week; an event of which Milton Keynes College is a main sponsor.  Talking of enormous, the Guest of Honour was none other than England Rugby World Cup winner, Martin Corry, who gave a very jolly and entertaining speech.  When one hears a relaxed and retired former professional like that it’s easy to forget just how much serious hard work goes into that level of success.

Sport at Milton Keynes College is exactly that; seriously hard work.  Individuals, teams and departments are expected to uphold the same values which are core to the academic and vocational side of what we do.  Students sign up to a “No Pass, no Play” policy whereby inadequate performance in the classroom disbars them from playing representative games.  On the field or court striving for excellence is as much expected as it is in the catering kitchen or engineering workshop.  All those principles of respect and tolerance which we hold dear are if anything more visible in the sporting arena than elsewhere.  Integrity, innovation, inspiring others – these are all stated College ideals with obvious sporting resonance, and they bring success.  The College is the 2014 East Region College Football Champion, EABL Basketball Conference Winners for the 2013/14 season and East Region Champions 2012, 2013 & 2014.  The rugby 7s are the East Region Series Winners 2013/14.  In Sports Leadership terms our students won the BCS Female Volunteer of the Year 2013/14; the StreetGames Volunteer project of the year 2013 and the LEAP (Bucks & MK Sport and Activity Partnership) project of the year award.  Our students regularly win places at elite sporting universities like Loughborough by combination of academic achievement and sporting prowess.

Sport is good for the economy (Manchester Utd’s ill-fated visit to the Dons this season is reckoned to have generated £2 million for the city), it inspires civic and community pride and it’s good for health and fitness – no bad thing when remembering the city is officially the eighth most obese place in Britain.

George Orwell famously said, “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play.  It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence.  In other words, it is war minus the shooting.”  Of course, all of these things it can be, but in actual fact George was missing the point.  What he describes is sport without discipline, without integrity, without respect, without rigor; with them it is endlessly instructive, beautiful, awe-inspiring and life affirming – all the things education should be.

Ah, George.  If only you’d come to MK College instead of Eton.  How different could it all have been?

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