Friday, 5 June 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 5th June

This time last year we had the sound of samba and bossanova ringing in our ears as we welcomed the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Exactly a year on from that and the organisation, which we have grown to love and trust somewhat, has fallen foul to scandal and corruption. It’s a sad indictment of the world we live in and the recent athletic doping scandal is testimony to this. Sport has come under a lot of scrutiny recently, from match fixing to the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs and rightly so – sport is for all and should be, and please excuse the pun, be played on a level playing field. The global media coverage the FIFA story has received is vast. The question is, should it? You would think all of this is the most important matter facing the world - bigger than climate change, bigger, than the economy, bigger than religious extremism, bigger than world hunger. We have lost some sense of perspective. I know corruption is wrong, I know it should be rooted out, and I know it causes real harm. The perpetrators should be brought to justice. But this corruption is, with all due respect, in the world of sport. It is not something that really matters, or should matter, that much to people. If we were to discover that the World Health Organisation, or HM Treasury, or Google, or even the BBC were systematically corrupt, then, yes, that would matter a great deal, for obvious reasons. Real lives and livelihoods are at stake; real human welfare being perverted for personal gain by some unscrupulous individuals or other. Now I know football is a huge global business – the sponsorship and obscene salaries in our world-beating Premier league reflects this – but it is all rather irrational. However, we can learn a lot from sport at the fundamental level – the qualities of team work, leadership, endeavour, respect, integrity, winning and losing graciously, fair play – true sportsmanship; this is what we should be concentrating on moving forward. Teaching the next generation how to be good sportsman in every respect, both on and off the pitch is vital. With fixtures this past week against the likes of Millfield, Taunton School and Bruton School for Girls, I hope we are instilling those important qualities and building the character necessary so that our students can compete beyond our school gates. I trust the new custodians of FIFA will do the same too.

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