Are politics & money affecting the sport on the European & World Stages?

Last week it was announced the 2018 UEC European Championships for both the Challenge classes and Juniors will be held in Sarrians, France yet the European Championships for Elite will take part in Glasgow, Scotland (to coincide with the European Championships for several other sports) – splitting both BMX Championships for the first time in the history of the event that dates back to 1982. With the 2018 UCI World Championships, whether you’re a fan or not, the fact that it’s being held in Baku, Azerbaijan confirms money and politics talks in both UEC and UCI when it comes to major championships.

It seems the new trend is to spend millions on building large, new tracks for one-time events and then abandon them soon thereafter like we saw in both Beijing and Rio post-Olympics. At least, in London following the 2012 Olympic Games they successfully tamed down the track for everyday use allowing for both regular local and regional races. They also have grassroots coaching programs in place, which are running successfully as we speak. The Glasgow facility will actually stay after the 2018 European Championships and run as a club but let’s be realistic, no one is going to travel to Glasgow to train and ride on an 8m hill after the event so you would think maybe a regular hill would be sufficient off the bat.

You can look at the positives and negatives with regard to both the European and World Championships for 2018. However you chose to look at it, one thing’s clear, they will both run smoothly and with TV/digital viewership the governing bodies hope for the potential of many more eyeballs on the sport with a chance of influencing future growth. One would think for the amount being invested, it would be better in the long run to use existing facilities, with an already built-in user base and infrastructure, with improvements added to these facilities that are not only used today but will also continue to be used after these major events. Isn’t the ultimate goal not to just showcase the sport on the world stage but to also facilitate engagement and building at the grassroots side of the sport as well.

As Elite riders are the key to capturing the interest of viewers – shouldn’t they be compensated more? How about also considering more prize money into the budget when developing the overall plan. It seems if you are part of a National Team that covers your expenses and offers a minimal salary that that’s the best an Elite rider can hope for these days in an already struggling industry? We’re just scratching the surface here there’s a lot to talk about and discuss, as we dig deeper on these subjects going forward.

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7 Responses

  1. David Wright says:

    I don’t disagree with the majority of your points. However, as a Scot, I would just say that the new track in Glasgow should help facilitate the continued growth of the sport north of the border and people will travel, (for example, people from the north of England already come up to race & train, and there is 3-4 hours of travel north of Glasgow. I also think that it is great that BMX has been included in a major Multi-Sports event like Glasgow Europeans 2018.

    • BMXWeekly.com says:

      Agree, David & you’re right – the European Championships for Multi-Sports could bring growth. You have been around since the early days in Scotland hopefully, along with guys like Ian Archibald — you guys should have some input on the future direction of the sport up North.

  2. Neil Cameron says:

    The Olympics and the uci are expensive tastes that this sport cannot afford. The chase for gold at either world champs or Olympics is ripping the guts out of domestic bmx. The uci have no interest in growing the sport – they don’t even know how big each countries membership is. Growth of bmx is not on their agenda. Growth of the uci is.

  3. winglet says:

    Agree with Neil, UCI & Olympics aren’t growing anything accept themselves. They scoop in to make $$. Olympics didn’t do anything to grow freestyle now they get a free ride. They will leave BMX racing once it’s dead. However I do like seeing the European Champs elites with a big multi sports festival, they will have road, mtb, track & BMX & other sports.

  4. Justine says:

    Investment in the sport in Scotland is long overdue! As the sport is growing and more riders at a higher level coming through. These riders are having to travel long distances to race nationally and internationally therefore this facility is very much needed in Scotland. Also Glasgow are already taking this family, grassroots sport in to schools to introduce and continue the growth.

    • BMXWeekly.com says:

      It’s great to see racing growing again in Scotland since the likes of Hoy, Welsh, Archibald, Kelmen and co – made names in the 80s/90s. Hopefully, they get this new facility right and the sport will benefit even more from the investment spent.

  5. As far as I’ve read about the Glasgow track is that it will have dual hills

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