Today’s media coverage is rightly hostile about the Crawford report, commissioned and welcomed by the Rudd Government, which recommends that Australia abandon its Olympic traditions and ambitions and accept a more realistic target.

So much for excellence.

The report recommends that additional government funding go to community sport (eg our many footy codes) rather than elite Olympic sports programs.

Of course, ‘framing’ comes into play here. The report want s you to believe that archery is an ‘elite’ sport while AFL and rugby league are really just community sports after all.

The report is also premised on a flawed, or exaggerated, notion that there is an opposition between community and elite sports programs.

But it is lucky that it has stirred up a hornet’s nest with its blunt rejection of the Australian Olympic movement’s claims for extra funding.

Without this controversy, the report contains nothing of interest. It is page after page of banalities and findings of the ‘no shit sherlock’ variety. Again and again, the tough issues are ducked.

Take finding 47:

Sports at all levels derive significant revenues from fast food and alcohol advertising.

Limitations on sponsorship of sport will significantly affect the industry.

No kidding, and the recommended response? None.

But there are lots of the usual lame ideas like a government program to encourage old people to volunteer to help sporting organisations. The sort of policy bumpf much loved by 20/20 conferences and the like. Butcher’s paper strategies.

Unsurprisingly, the report makes much of the health, educational, social capital etc benefits of community sport, yet there is no one on the committee with real and substantial expertise in any of these areas.

The composition of the committee is questionable, while four of the five committee members have links to the major football codes, only one has links to a major Olympic sport (hockey).

That’s not independent, that’s stacked.

Still, reading the report you get the sense that it is really just a way to help the hapless Kate Ellis reject the insistent John Coates.

Certainly, Coates got the message.

The battle will be fierce and the second-rate nature of this report (unbalanced committee, flawed arguments, little factual substantiation, unimaginative policy contribution) will not help the Government.

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