The long-awaited Crawford Review of Australian Sport has finally been released (read it here) and it’s causing quite a stir in this sports-mad country of ours.

As Bernard Keane reported in yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail:

[The report] has in effect called the bluff of successive Australian governments and proposed a re-weighting of sports funding away from elite Olympic sports toward grassroots participation.

The Crawford Review has brought that contradiction out into the open, suggesting “the funding imbalance between Olympic and non-Olympic sports should be questioned. More emphasis should be given to sports that are popular with many Australians … The bias toward funding Olympic sports leads to outcomes that make little strategic sense for Australia.”

For many, the criticism of Australia’s gold-medal-hungry sports policies have been a long time coming.

In the SMH, Richard Hinds writes:

David Crawford and his panel should be hailed for one thing: attempting to unshackle the government-funded sports sector from the limited, stifling and self-serving influence of the Olympic movement and its costly, self-aggrandising gold-medal obsession.

The Age‘s Greg Baum takes a similar line:

Now the Federal Government must decide if it believes failure to win a medal in the 50-metre backstroke in London in 2012 represents a calamitous failure of national vocation that will put Australia at risk of disappearing off the face of the globe, or merely will spare the world three gratuitous ”oi”s. I think we will survive.

But in other (decidedly more Rupert-flavoured) corners, the assault on Australia’s Olympic hopes have not been so well-received.

The Australian‘s sports editor Willy Mason writes:

To follow the recommendation of the Crawford review of sport and abandon the aspiration to remain in the top five Olympic nations and settle for mere sporting mediocrity is to throw away part of our national identity.

Every Australian athlete, no matter what their sport, deserves the chance to strive for Olympic selection and a medal. And every Australian deserves the chance to celebrate when they succeed.

So what do Crikey Sports readers think? A refreshing change in thinking from the relentless and costly pursuit of Olympic gold, or is international sporting success a vital part of our national identity? Leave your thoughts below.

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