Columnist Grant Davidson's commantary on Sport NZ & government funding of sport and recreation in New Zealand is something we agree with here at the Alterno Foundation.

"OPINION: I am an incredibly competitive person. I admit to shedding tears when New Zealand athletes produce world-class finishes.

However, here we are halfway through the Rio Olympics and the medal tally is good, but not great. This is not to undermine the dedication and performance of all of our athletes. The reality is that we are a small country and we punch above our weight on a global scale. But the call from some quarters once Rio draws to a close will be for us to put more money into the quest for medals. We need to ask: at what cost, and is there a better way?

Sport direction is led in this country by Sport NZ, whose desired outcomes are stated as being: more young people engaging in sport and recreation; more adults engaging in sport and recreation; and, more winners on the world stage.

As an interested observer, the focus appears to be more targeted on the third outcome rather than the first two. The trickle-down philosophy that elite sport will inspire broad-based participation seems to be as flawed as its economic equivalent, whereby the gap between the haves and the have-nots in New Zealand is growing. While seeing our athletes win gold medals may spur us on to get up at 1am to watch the Olympics on TV while chowing down on comfort food, it is not driving New Zealanders in large numbers to the local rowing club to join up.

The hard truth confronting New Zealand is that we are now bronze medallists in the obesity stakes, with the third worst adult obesity rate in the OECD. And we have good prospects for a silver or gold in the near future. Our population is ageing, urbanising and diversifying. But have we modified our strategy to manage these changes?"

Read the full article here: