Wednesday, 23 September 2015

EU Referendum And Bamboo Shoots

"The crowd are on their feet, they're trying to roar him home..."
The above quote is taken from the increasingly enthusiastic BBC's commentary during Mo Farah's final lap when winning the men's 5,000m in 2012 London Olympics. It illustrates neatly the importance of the impact of momentum. Athletics, like all sports, deploys tactics where often patience is a virtue and how to win depends on an acute awareness of when to strike for maximum effectiveness. Farah has shown himself to be a master of this, as we can see here:
Farah was content to sit at the back, going wide to pick up a drink of water from the feeding stations on the back straight early on and dump it over his head.
Only with seven laps to go did he move up through the field, cruising into second behind Ethiopia's Imane Merga before easing to the front with 1,600 metres to go.
With this in mind, a recent campaigner I'm in touch with noted a similar observations regarding Brexit:
The referendum has not even been called and by ...closing ears to other arguments at this early stage can [we] establish sufficient momentum to win?
This in a sense means a referendum is rather like sport; the cruel clarity means we either win or we don't. There's no middle way. But in another sense we also have to have momentum the closer we get to the poll.

I'm minded to reflect on the words of Frank Dick, who describes himself as an inspiring motivational speaker and has been the President of the European Athletics Coaches Association, Member of the IAAF Coaches Commission, as well as Chair (and architect) of the IAAF Academy. He observed:
Progress, however, requires a high level of patience. When I became Director of Coaching in 1979 my objective was to develop a team to challenge for the European Cup. When Great Britain won that trophy in 1989, several journalists asked what had made the difference that year - as if the achievement was just some thing that had suddenly happened. I suggested that it was something like growing Chinese bamboo.
You plant the bamboo and make sure it has all the right nutrients, water and amount of sunlight.  Nothing happens in the first year, nor in the second year, nor the third. In fact, you do not even get a single green shoot in the fourth year.  In the fifth, over a period of six weeks, it grows 30 metres! I do not think that my knowledge of Chinese horticulture impressed the journalists, but the point was made.
Success is not achieved by chance; it is necessary to work hard and allow time for development.  With a refined style of leadership which relies on constant evaluation and support, athletics will continue to grow and prosper.
In essence he asked the question did the bamboo grow 30 metres in six weeks or did it grow 30 metres in five years.

Hurrying off the starting blocks with no sense of strategy and momentum will get us nowhere.

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