GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Funding Sport


Thanks for your engagement with my America’s Cup post the other day. I saw a couple of comments raising the issue of the All Blacks and funding events like The Rugby World Cup.

Well, I think we shouldn’t put tax payer money into any professional sport .

I certainly think we should fund amateur sports.


Well, because that’s where our professional sports people get their start and encouraging people to play a sport is generally good for the physical and mental well-being of people throughout our nation.

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If I recall correctly this was the idea behind the creation of the Ministry of Sport and Recreation back in 1972 when it’s first Minister Joe Walding launched the
“Come Alive” campaign to get Kiwis off the couch and enjoying the outdoors instead of watching TV.

(See the logo for this post).

You might well think we need such a campaign again today
Be that as it may I don’t think we should be putting state money into professional sporting events.

Amateur sport Yes.

Funding Olympics and Paralympics. Yes

Professional sports ? No.

And if you are of a neoliberal economic mind set then I’d suggest you can’t argue that governments should not interfere in business and yet want tax payer money to cover business expenses.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Agree 100%.

    Sport should be encouraged for everyone for mental and physical health and to see if it a prospect for youth to go into as professional sport or as a career.

    Professional sport has plenty of sponsors and sports money and should not be taken from the grass roots sport who don’t have the glitz and professionals there extracting the money from government.

    It’s all round the wrong way in NZ.

    If you want to win, fund grassroots unprofessional sport!

    Norway is dominating these Winter Olympics with a unique approach to sports

    “Unlike the U.S., where we keep score of everything all the time, Norway puts kids in sports but doesn’t let them keep score until age 13. The idea is to make sports part of their social development so that the motivation to stay involved is to have fun with their friends, not winning.

    Eventually, of course, the Norwegians introduce competition and the most advanced sports science techniques they can develop to pump out their medal-hoarding biathletes, skiers and ski jumpers. But the idea, Ovrebo said, isn’t to have the highest-ranked 10-year-old athletes in the world but rather the most mature adults.

    “A huge amount of Norwegian kids are doing sports, so we have very broad recruiting base, and our top sports programs and our kids are very closely connected in our system,” Ovrebo said. “They can compete, but we don’t make like No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 before they’re in their 13th year. We think it’s better to be a child in this way because then they can concentrate on having fun and be with their friends and develop. We think the biggest motivation for the kids to do sports that they do it with their friends and they have fun while they’re doing it and we want to keep that feeling throughout their whole career.”

    And fun remains a key tent of the Norwegian experience even when they grow up, which is important since, as Ovrebo acknowledges, “it’s not a very competitive society from the start.” In other words, Norway doesn’t look at sports as an avenue to fame and fortune, nor is it an escape from their troubles. Because most Norwegians, it turns out, don’t have many troubles given the universal health care, free college education and high employment rates.”

  2. Well then the government will have to create an environment where foreigners can invest in professional kiwi sports kicking professional salaries to the moon. Let me tell you how that goes. That’s not what motivates the All Blacks. It’s that every kiwi when it’s all said and done stands behind what the All Blacks Represent – Us.

  3. No. Public funds ought to be put into Proffessional New Zealand Sport exactly to pay them just bellow market rates so they are not lured into the private investment world where there is fuck all mana.

  4. Yes agree.
    If professional sports want funds then they should do so through the private sector not through government.
    This is normal practice in most professional sports worldwide.

  5. Sport has been carefully morphed into something you watch, not something you do, Bryan.

    And it should be watched via a payment of some sort to of corporation -either by way of a ticket or a subscription. And the watching should be accompanied by the consumption of substantial quantities of brand-name alcohol and brand-name fast food.

    Just to emphasise the importance of branding, players must were corporate slogans and sport facilities must be plastered with corporate slogans. And televised sport must be frequently interrupted by demands that the viewer purchase something….anything. Just buy something!

    And whatever you do, do not think for yourself.

    Go on, be a non-thinking consumer, just like everyone else.

    How dare you think otherwise, Bryan!

  6. Does any other country’s government subsidise the America’s cup? Or is it only multinationals in other countries? Does anyone know?
    D J S

  7. 100% Bruce! Can you be Minister of Sport please?
    I don’t have a clue why govt or AKL council even got involved with stumping up that kind of money. I guess it’s the same ‘business case approach’ as the Bike Bridge decision – a potential voter group makes some noise and out comes the taxpayer piggybank to keep them happy….hoping for some PR value. Thank god it’s all backfiring. It’s stupid on all levels. Cost to benefit ratio is prohibitive – a total loss. Build the Ashburton Bridge now!

  8. I’m not sporty. I’m definitely, definitely, not a team player. I have a great fear of rugby. If so many big burly fellows want a small pointy ball so much then why not give them all one each? I’m not a fan of hugging strange sweaty men on a muddy paddock so that’s soccer out too. ( No disrespect to fellows hugging on muddy paddocks intended. ) My idea of sports is any non work pastime that doesn’t involve others. Skiing, skating, walking, mountain biking, competition spouting cleaning, full contact dog walking. I practised martial arts for a while, I have a certificate in Thai kick boxing and I loved that until my tutor said I should try sparring with another, which I did but God I hated it… I kind of like sporty anything’s that means I can have a laugh and not have to compete with an idiot who might enjoy such a thing.
    Having written that;
    AO/NZ sport must be publicly funded because otherwise sport must seek sponsorship. Then you will have big burly fellows dressed in black tights chasing a pointy ball on a muddy paddock in the middle of winter to advertise insurances. Or beer, or what ever else they must whore themselves out to.
    The instant privateer money becomes a necessity in sport, sport stops being sport and becomes instead a commodity. As we have all become in the guts of the fascist parasite we know of as capitalism now dug deep in to our democracy.
    Now, here’s a real sporty fellow in my opinion.
    The Guardian
    Cristiano Ronaldo snub wipes billions off Coca-Cola’s market value

  9. All we need to know about these world sports events held in countries is that they are a net lost making venture to the host country.


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