Why would watching someone swim fast inspire you to mow your lawn?

I’m all for encouraging gardening. More gardening can make people healthier, benefit the environment and improve the local area. And, far more importantly, for many people it’s a great source of enjoyment.

I’m also relaxed about the idea of government in some way being involved in such encouragement; for example, by local councils running gardening courses.

But I really can’t see how the government can claim with a straight face that encouraging more gardening is one of the objectives for the 2012 Olympics. For as the Financial Times reports:

Ministers sought to dig themselves out of an allotment-sized hole on Friday to fend off accusations they are including gardening among activities to measure the sporting legacy of the 2012 Olympics…

The original hope of ministers was that becoming 2012 host city would spur a national outpouring of sporting endeavour – or as Tessa Jowell, Olympics minister, put it, generating “a nation of the sports mad, not the spectating mad”…

Last year, the target was reduced when the department for culture, media and sport said it would seek to involve 1m more in sporting activity while the health department would encourage an additional 1m to be more physically active.

Walking was the main physical activity the government sought to promote for those less inclined to engage in sport. Now it wants to add gardening.

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat shadow Olympic minister, said ministers were desperate to justify the £9.3bn cost of the Games.

“Unless it turns out there are secret plans to introduce mowing the lawn and bulb planting as Olympic events, then we’ll have to assume that the government is watering down targets because it knows they can’t be met,” he said.

So what’s meant to happen? You are sat at home watching someone on the TV run very fast and you think, “Hey, that’s inspirted me to go and plant some bulbs”? Or you hear the breathless exctiement of a commentator on the radio as a swimming world record is broken and you think, “You know, that could be me. Let’s go mow some lawns”? Or maybe people around the country will be inspired to grow hedges in the shape of the Olympic stadium?

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