Did the Olympics settle the issue of Britain's favourite sport? Is it rowing, cycling, equestrianism, gymnastics or athletics? Each produced its heroes, inspired our admiration and taught us the qualities in terms of skill, commitment, sacrifice and courage which are necessary for success.
But the Olympics were not the only games in town.
Before, during and after them the political commentators were hyper active with their analyses of which political regime or philosophy is more likely to generate sporting success. To participate in the game, none of the qualities possessed by the athletes was required; all that was needed was an opinion, no matter how fatuous, ill considered or unjustified, a few statistics randomly and unscientifically chosen and a medium to publish the resulting wisdom.
This game attracted all the usual suspects; politicians, of course, from the Prime Minister down, journalists, social commentators, newspaper proprietors (Mr Murdoch could not resist a tweet on the subject), celebrities and even a few athletes (one of whom stood the usual arguments on their head by declaring his belief that his Eton education, notwithstanding its magnificent sporting facilities and teaching, had been prejudicial to his development as an athlete).
The game is played by subjecting the social origins and education of Team GB's athletes to a usually superficial analysis and then linking this to government policies with regard to sport and drawing conclusions which favour one or other of the political parties. Few could have missed how, as a motif to sporting excellence, the political partisans attributed success in the Olympics to the policies and philosophies of their favoured party. Thus one party was attacked for permitting the sale of school sports fields and withdrawing the £160million budget of the School Sports Partnership while the other was denigrated for discouraging sporting competitiveness in schools and bureaucratising the organisation of inter school sporting co-operation. No prizes identifying the parties concerned.
A few saner, less politically motivated, commentators demonstrated the very complex factors which influence sporting success and the futility of superficial, but politically appealing analysis. They pointed to the ironies which emerged from such analysis, including why, if independent schools are disproportionately well endowed with sports fields and specialist teachers, they produced no athletic gold medallist in the Olympics - our three heroes all being products of the state sector. Similarly they noted that there was no direct correlation between medal success and funding. Rowing and cycling with, respectively, £27.3m and £26m, of lottery funding produced a chest full of medals whereas swimming, which received almost as much funding, at £25.1m had a very disappointing games by comparison with other sports and previous performance.
However, it is widely accepted that access to good facilities and specialist coaching is crucial especially if children are to be inspired and influenced to develop the good sporting habits which will underpin later success. It also provides the link to greater participation by independent schools making a more effective contribution to the realisation of sporting ambitions by those gifted but less privileged children whose schools may not have the required facilities.
Making sports facilities more widely available is not always easy. However many independent schools have been sharing their facilities with other schools or the community generally, for many years and long before there was thought to be any legal, as opposed to moral or social, imperative to do so. They have successfully addressed the legal and practical issues which inevitably arise including whether their charitable objects permit it, how it will be paid for, organised and administered, and how it should be presented to parents, governors and others whose support is essential.
The Charity Commission attempted through its flawed and now withdrawn guidance on public benefit to influence private schools to share their benefits more widely as a way of "providing" public benefit. In the context of inspiring a generation the unforced, magnanimous sharing of facilities will reflect far more creditability upon independent schools than any pressure from the Charity Commission and may materially contribute to the fulfilment of potential which might otherwise remain untapped.