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Anita L. DeFrantz

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Managing the Olympic Legacy

Posted: 08/17/2012 3:49 pm

I just left London and it is a city enjoying the glorious feeling of a job well done by the citizens who hosted the Games of the XXX Olympiad. As Britain continues to celebrate the athletic performance of Team GB, attention now turns to the development and management of the 2012 sporting legacy.

Olympic host cities in recent decades have produce a mixed bag of legacies. I am hardly a neutral observer, but for my money the most successful Olympic legacy is the one resulting from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Six years in advance of the 1984 Games, a deal was struck with the United States Olympic Committee, the financial guarantor of the 1984 Olympic Games, that for every dollar of surplus, 60 cents would go to the USOC and 40 cents would stay in Southern California. The surplus turned out to be nearly $235 million.

The USOC invested its share in the United States Olympic Foundation, which supports the participation of elite athletes in national and international competitions. Elite athlete development is a long-term proposition and the 104 medals won by American Olympians in 2012 is an excellent return on investment.

The 40 percent of the surplus that remained in Southern California was the genesis of the LA84 Foundation, a foundation devoted to the growth of community-based youth sports and the study of sport's social impact. Through careful spending and investments, the LA84 Foundation has made grants to more than 1,100 youth sports organizations, serving 2.5 million young participants. In addition, the LA84 Foundation has built a sports library and digital research collection used by scholars throughout the world.

The beauty of the pre-1984 Games agreement was that it guaranteed support for athletes throughout the spectrum of sport. It is important that future Olympic legacy efforts not focus solely on the production of future Olympians. While, we at the LA84 Foundation always celebrate the success of the Olympians and hundreds of other elite athletes who were introduced to sports through programs we funded, we are even more proud of the opportunities we have created for millions of kids to simply enjoy playing sports. Our goal is to provide a sports experience characterized by TLC -- Teaching, Learning and Competition. We work with youth sports organizations to provide a safe environment, trained coaches, regularly scheduled practices emphasizing skill development and organized competitions. We know that if we can deliver that kind of an experience, a range of social, educational and health benefits will follow.

Happily, there are people in Britain who share a similar goal. London Funders, the umbrella body of London's voluntary and community sector, inspired by the example of the LA84 Foundation, have developed a business plan for the creation of an independent endowed fund to support community sport as a lasting legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I wish them and similar groups every success. The young people of Great Britain will be the richer for it.

 
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