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Worse Results of Polish Athletes

The position of a given country in international sports rivalry is (besides the socio-political and economic situation as well as the state of its culture development) one of the crucial elements defining its place in the world. Therefore, sport plays an important role in the activities of state bodies and institutions.

One of the simpler tools used to evaluate the position of Poland in the world of sport is its position in the medal count from subsequent Olympic Games (summer and winter, yet due to the definitely wider, global scope - mainly form summer ones). Polish sport, already present in the Olympic movement since 1919, made its debut at the Olympics in 1924 in Paris and - as for those days - had a successful performance. Poland won two medals: silver (team track race) and bronze (Adam Królikiewicz in Equestrian jumping competition). In the following decades, Polish Team was present at each subsequent (except for Los Angeles in 1984) Olympic Games. Between 1960-1980 the results of our athletes placed Poland in the top "ten" of countries listed in the medal table from respective Games (the Olympics in Munich in 1972 were an exception, where we took 11th place, while already four years later, in Montreal, we were on the 6th position - highest in history).

Unfortunately, in consecutive years our international position began to deteriorate. Until 2000 (Sydney) our country was still among the leading 20 states, in an overall world medal-winning ranking, but then it actually "fell out" from it, taking the following positions: in Athens (2004) - 23rd, in Beijing (2008) - 28th and in London (2012) - 30th place, even though the amount of achieved medals was still ten.

It is a characteristic phenomenon that in years preceding the respective Olympics, our athletes, during world and European championships (seniors and juniors), obtain great results - they even win hundreds of medals, beat personal and Polish records; however not always, actually too rarely, do these results transfer into subsequent Olympic achievements.

It seems that individual Polish sports federations as well as the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, which monitors and supervises their activities on a day-to-day basis, must investigate causes of such situation

Low Level of Financing

Within the feedback which the Polish Olympic Committee receives from different sources, the dominating message is that the amounts of financial resources allocated to Polish sport are too low. The share of resources allocated in state budget to sport (especially professional) is declining from year to year. The share of the expenses connected to physical culture in the state budget amounted to: in 2008 - 0.12%, in 2009 - 0.09%, in 2010 - 0.17%, in 2011 - 0.32%, in 2012 - 0.17% respectively. The plan for 2013 predicted this share on the level of 0.08%, and after Sejm amendments it reached the level of 0.082% in the already approved state budget. In the "top-till-now" years 1989 and 1990, this share amounted to 0.55 and 0.51%, respectively.

The POC as well as its stakeholders are particularly alarmed with the fall of total amounts directed towards "supporting preparations for the participation in the Olympic Games, world and European championships". This amount in 2008 equaled to 185 186 thousand PLN, in 2010 - 150 416 thousand PLN, in 2012 - 161 481 thousand PLN, and for 2013 the amount of 79 541 PLN has been allocated (thanks to efforts of the Polish Sejm Physical Education, Sport and Tourism Committee, the amount has successfully been increased by 30 000 thousand PLN. Yet, when compared to the previous year, the decrease is significant). At the same time, possibilities of acquiring sponsors by Polish sports clubs and federations are also limited, due to the international economic crisis.

Insufficient financial contributions allocated to sport from the state budget aren't the only problem reported to the Polish Olympic Committee. Others include faulty legal regulations, which include excessive interference in the activities of sports organizations, limiting the possibilities of their functioning. Business circles, willing to support sports activity to a higher degree, also expect State bodies and institutions to create legal and financial regulations, which would encourage enterprises, business and corporations to become seriously interested in such support. The new financial perspective of the European Union should also encourage co-funding of sports activities through European funds. This creates a chance difficult to overestimate; however, sports organizations may need guidance from institutions, both professional and trusted in the area of funds' obtaining procedures. Still, not all local governments regard providing support for the widely understood sport as a high priority in the hierarchy of their aims. Lowering the significance of academic sport (especially in team games; their academic clubs have their pillars for years) among Polish sport is an issue requiring serious consideration and an implementation of a recovery program. The position of sport in uniformed forces, in particular armed forces and the Police, should grow. After several years of their withdrawal from involvement in sport, a minimal improvement in this regard has taken place; however, the needs and expectations of the sports community (which is aware of the different situation in many other countries) are definitely bigger.

Many critical remarks concern the still-prevailing underestimation (in relation to other subjects) of the role of physical education and other sports-recreational classes as well as those teaching them in Polish schools.

According to statistical data published every four years by the Central Statistical Office of Poland ("Physical Education in Poland 2008-2010"), nearly 7 000 sports clubs (not counting pupil's and parish ones, which altogether amount to ca. 5 400) which train around half a million people operate in our country. These aren't satisfying numbers. In Poland, only 35 clubs correspond to 100 thousand residents. In comparison - the same indicator for Czech Republic, Germany and Portugal is getting close to 100; in Estonia, The Netherlands, Belgium and Slovakia reaches 200; in Spain exceeds 220, whereas in Denmark or Slovenia equals to 300 clubs and more. A simple scroll through these numbers calls for a question: what makes the organizational potential of sport in Poland so poor in effects (in Europe it only surpasses Romania)? On one hand, we certainly do have (however, not in all sports) difficulties in recruitment of children and the youth interested in practicing sports (perhaps the offer directed to them is not very attractive), on the other - a perspective of struggling with different obstacles of administrative, formal and financial nature is sometimes a discouragement for those willing to get actively involved in the club's activities. Generally, the sports movement calls for making this field far less bureaucratic.

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