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Critically examine how Government's attitude and policy towards sport has changed and evolved over the last 25 years.

How do we define the concept of sport? Usually the words leisure, play, free-time, competition and physical activity spring to mind. However, researchers generally struggle to agree on a generic definition of what constitutes sport. Coakley (2004) however defines sport as an

"institutionalised and competitive range of activities that involve vigorous physical exercise or the use of relatively complex physical skills by individuals whose participation is motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors".

Overall it is clear to see that sport has become a key area for governments over the last 25 years. As Coghlan (1990: 142) suggests, "sport and politics will continue to mix, the debate must always be not 'whether' but 'how' they should mix in Great Britain so that the interests of sport and the government of the day coincide and do not conflict".

While Margaret Thatcher and her 'free market' Conservative government paid little attention to the role of sport in contemporary society throughout the 1980s, her successor John Major ensured that sport remained part of a well rounded education and lifestyle in the early 1990s. Since 1997 Blair and his New Labour government have grabbed sport by the neck and transformed it, through various government acts, into an activity that has now become 'free for all'. Sport has indeed become an integral part of life for an increasingly large number of the population. But what about the future? The International Olympic Committee's  decision to award the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics Games to London was a tremendous honour and achievement and a wonderful tribute to the skill and passion of all those involved in the bid. The UK now has a once in a lifetime opportunity to stage the greatest show on earth and to transform its sporting, cultural and social landscape once again. (

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