SCL and the Olympic Spirit

July 25, 2012

I am probably one step ahead of most readers: my Olympic Games started in the Millennium Stadium on 25 July when the women’s football tournament began. I have not been lucky enough to get a ticket for the opening ceremony (lucky? – one hopes that it does not turn out to be the longest piece of car-crash television in history), but I was there for the very first piece of London 2012 action. And it soothed the soul.

I had always dreamed of attending an Olympics, albeit somewhere more exotic than Cardiff (lovely as it was yesterday), but feared that I would never get nearer than having five coffee mug rings on my desk. I went to Chippenham and saw the torch and was enthused – mainly by the crowd and the, almost tangible, good-heartedness on display – will i. am and Coca Cola razzamataz notwithstanding. Over recent weeks, even a sports enthusiast like me was coming to fear that the joke about hosting the Olympics becoming less like the Queen’s hosting of a garden party and more like John Hurt’s hosting in Alien seemed to be getting too close to the truth. But that changed yesterday with the first burst of the real Olympic spirit. The cheers of the crowd, the wonderful atmosphere, the groans and applause, the very real joy of the victorious players and the dignified reaction of the losers all combined to overwhelm my doubts and I am looking forward to the rest.

What Jacques Rogge and the IOC members and SCL’s trustees have in common is that all have a very worthwhile cause to champion and all need help in finding the best course of action. From where I sit, Ruth Baker and the SCL Trustees may have quite a few lessons to teach the IOC about integrating sponsorship into events and maintaining clarity of purpose. (On the other hand, SCL Conference opening ceremonies have all lacked oomph, and the occasional pithy exchange is no substitute for real fireworks.) What Jacques Rogge and the IOC would benefit from most is to sit in the crowd – not boxed away from it, make contact with losing athletes (not just the stars) and generally make an effort to keep in touch rather than isolate themselves. And, while there are {i}slight{/i} differences in scale between SCL and the Olympic movement, they face the same problem: ‘keeping in touch’.

I feel sure that SCL is better at this than many organisations – and way better than the IOC – perhaps because the trustees are denied their own lanes when attending events. But providing relevant services to members, or getting content right on the web site and in the magazine, is sometimes tricky. It is easy to lose touch with the needs of members and end up providing you with what we think you should want rather than what you actually want.

Keeping in touch is a complex process and certainly involves a lot more than the occasional survey. {i}But occasional surveys have their place too.{/i} SCL members should be aware that we have just compiled a questionnaire that takes only a few minutes to complete. We are very keen to get a representative and meaningful response – please make the necessary time. While we are grateful to all who have responded to date, and are especially grateful for the positive views generally expressed (I like the suggestion that Caroline Gould and I should have life peerages), we are also keen to hear from those who have less positive things to say. Just as Jacques Rogge or Seb Coe would benefit from hearing my five-year-old granddaughter ask ‘why do we have to sit so far away when all those seats down there [near the pitch] are empty?’, we might benefit from hearing a view that questions some of our assumptions. We can take it – and responses are anonymous anyway. And please respond too if you are reluctant just because you think things are fine as they are – they may not stay the way you like them (eg one question concerns the future need for a printed magazine).

So, if you are an SCL member, please complete the {questionnaire:}.

For the purposes of clarity, I should emphasise that SCL is not an official Olympic sponsor.