Edition number 16; dateline 30 January 2008
A new landscape to explore
‘Schadenfreude’ is an ugly word and at TLR Towers we leave such notions to others, particularly those with a working knowledge of German. In English, of which we have a better grasp, we find that the word ‘nevertheless’ can prove equally malicious. Both words have featured heavily in conversation following the news that the Rugby Football Union has been bitten by the credit crunch.
In case you missed it, news from Twickenham is that the governing body of English egg-chasing is bracing itself for a £10 million loss of revenue next year as sales of corporate hospitality packages and tickets fall off the economic cliff. Job losses at the RFU could result and the staging of the 2015 world cup, which requires the hosts to hand over a guaranteed £80 million to the international governing body, could be in jeopardy. Francis Baron, the RFU chief executive, notes that people seem to be “sitting on their wallets at the moment”. And well they might, particularly with tickets to the 82,000 capacity cathedral that is the modern Twickenham costing up to £83. That’s almost ninety euros.
The thoughts of most people involved in leisure will quickly turn to the possible impact on the players, clubs and coaches who devote their time and skills to the game of rugby union across the country. A noticeable smaller number will worry about the impact on the grandeur of the denizens of RFU headquarters who have long revelled in their status as a leading light in the international sporting firmament. From the perspective of the casual observer it seemed that all too often they took as their lead the achievements of another form of football – association – as a model and the money-making machine of the Premier League as a goal. Soccer provided its own warnings, particularly in the way a game was professionalised, removed from its roots and made the plaything of the wealthy and self-important – but still the RFU followed. Now, like so many other big businesses, it is having to face the financial realities of a perfect economic storm.
As we start 2009 contributors to The Leisure Review have noted that these are troubled times, times that will challenge many organisations and businesses trying to stay in business and meet the needs of both their auditors and their customers. However, whether they are referring to the public or private sectors, our contributors also argue that there are also grounds for optimism. Those organisations that have been committed to quality and improvement could now be in a position to find a commercial advantage. Those services that have suffered in comparison with the supposed efficiency and dynamism of the financial sector can now be re-evaluated. Now more than ever a little humility goes a long way and those that have maintained their principles and their integrity may well find that the balance sheet, newly drawn now that consumption, excess and self-regard have suddenly gone out of fashion, shows them in a different light.
The message could be interpreted as a recommendation to do what you do best and do it well. One could extrapolate to suggest that sport belongs to the people that play it, not the bankers and millionnaires that purport to own it; that art belongs to the people who make it and love it rather than to those who would cover it in diamonds and sell it for the price of a hospital wing. The thing with wallets is that some are thicker than others and the thing with people is that the same maxim applies. Hubris can be terminal.
letter from the editor
The Leisure Review editorial