Edition number 21; dateline 2 July 2008

Plugging a professional gap
While everyone at the back of the stands wish both Nicky McCrudden and Svend Elkjaer the very best with their respective up-coming conferences, we can’t help but wonder whether the issues they intend to cover are of such import that perhaps one of the agencies or institutions with which we share our professional space might feel they ought to be upskilling colleagues rather than leaving things to the vagaries of the market. Nicky is running the first Regional Volunteer Manager’s Conference for the South East in November and, as she says at her estimable website www.mccrudden-training.co.uk, “Volunteer management is becoming increasingly professional” and people who work with volunteers need the chance to “meet to share experiences and develop their skills”. Svend’s topic is similarly contiguous to the cutting edge as he has booked a series of expert speakers to debate “how disability sport can grow participation, profile and commercial and community partnerships by being vibrant and visible”. Despite an ugly verb, we have no doubt that Marketing Disability Sport at Stoke Mandeville on 15th July will provide industry professionals with important CPD. But why is there this vacuum at the heart of our industry and who should be plugging it?

Pool-side perspectives
Elsewhere in this edition of TLR you will find cogently argued debate surrounding the implications of the government’s announcement that free swimming IS the Olympic legacy. But we know you haven’t come to Row Z in a search of reasoned debate so we took some soundings from the pool-side and assured our interlocutors that they would not be identified and that anything “shot from the hip” would be welcome. Arguments against what seems to be the daftest idea since Nordic walking go something like this. Price is only one barrier to participation and anyway price does not deter parents with children. Who will pay for the marketing that will be necessary if the scheme is to work? Reports from Wales indicate that numbers went down when free swimming came in, possibly because adults do not like to swim if they think there will be a lot of children in the pool, so the short-term ‘burst’ of new swimmers puts regulars off. When the newcomers move on the former users don’t return.

New jobs, new horizons
This week beetle-browed former line-out enforcer Martin Johnson starts a new job – the role description for which seems to go no further than “be respected and charismatic and for goodness sake sort it out” – and so too do the business brains behind The Leisure Review itself. It seems that TLR Communications Ltd, the holding (apologies for the stray soccer reference) company that brings you The Leisure Review, has added a new magazine title to its  editorial portfolio. We tracked down TLR Comms commercial director Mick Owen, who explained, “Much as we enjoy banging out TLR every month, it is very much a labour of love. Our core business is supplying editorial capacity to organisations that don’t have the expertise, the confidence or perhaps just the time in-house so when we were asked if we could edit and produce a quarterly title for professionals in the specialist industry of vehicle recovery we naturally said yes.” And never once did he crack a smile.

Getting it straight
Regular readers will forgive the repetition but Dwain Chambers is a drugs cheat. Not a “former drugs cheat”, as The Observer’s Duncan Mackay has it, and not a wronged innocent who “made amends for my mistakes a long time ago”, as his own publicity machine would have us believe. And he most assuredly does not have the support of “all the public” because there is an entire office of Row Z staff (not to mention a number of band-wagon-jumping former Olympians led by Dame Kelly) who thinks he should have been banned from all sport for life. And Gladiators. Contrast his posturing and politicising with the behaviour of cyclist David Millar. He was caught, he did his time and he was given a second chance to compete, just not at the Olympics for Britain. His response has been to count his blessings, get his head down and work to eradicate drugs cheating in cycling and beyond. He could have done a Chambers and run to the courts bleating, “Its not fair, Mummy” but instead he says, “To be honest I don’t know if the GB team need me. I might be more of a hindrance. There is so much good stuff going on… they don’t need ghost of the past.” Which we think is laudable.
Meanwhile, on the lawns of south-west London
And what a great summer it could be for taciturn Scots boys with David Millar look-alike, sound-alike and grump-alike Andy Murray doing terribly well (at the time of writing) at Wimbledon and Millar hunting down stage wins in what should be an unmissable Tour de France. Millar’s multi-lingual bons mots enliven all Tour television coverage. His intolerance of foolish questions bordering on belligerence and his refusal to play the media tart refreshing in this day and age. Murray too can show his disdain for bootless journos and reportedly boycotted the BBC’s coverage for the first week of England’s grand slam tournament, which is more than LTA chief Roger Draper did. The preternaturally smooth Draper may well be regretting taking on Garry Richardson during Radio 5 Live’s Sunday morning offer, Sportsweek, with Richardson hammering away at the Brad Gilbert issue, the failure to get anyone bar Murray into the world top one hundred and the primacy of other nation’s systems over the LTA’s. Schadenfreude is an ugly thing but if you missed it you can “Listen Again” via the BBC's wonderful box of i-tricks.

By the way
Did anyone else notice that England beat France at rugby league last week in preparation for their world cup? No, we didn’t think so.


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