THE BLOG
17/07/2012 13:33 BST | Updated 16/09/2012 06:12 BST

Sport's Dance With the Devil

The combined turnover of Kraft (Cadbury), McDonald's and Coke is £116 billion - which, funnily enough is equivalent to the entire sport industry worldwide. We accept that the product they provide is not good for you if consumed in excess. But if they don't use sport then they will spend their advertising dollars elsewhere and I would prefer them to be driving their money into sport.

Ticketing complaints aside, I have been surprised by the support the British press has shown for the Olympics over the last years. The comfortable silence has been down to a number of factors - LOCOG being a pretty sharp, well-run organisation being number one. The organisers have also been keen not to make enemies of the media. Seb Coe, on being asked by a American news commentator how he deals with the feral British press, responded "Not feral - forensic," and then went on to not just defend the British press but to say that they have been a constant motivator for LOCOG.

With the Olympics less than two weeks away and the world's eyes turning to London, the truce has been broken. Every day now will bring a new story suggesting that disaster is pending at London 2012: security, sponsors, transport, Usain Bolt's shoelaces coming undone - the list will go on.

There is nothing unexpected in this. It was exactly the same for previous Olympic Games, except of course Beijing, where attitudes to freedom of the press are somewhat more conservative.

The security situation dominated the headlines this weekend, and last week there was the startling revelation that junk food, chocolate and booze are bad for you when consumed in excess and because of that the companies peddling those wares should not sponsor the Olympic Games. With all the known health benefits of sport, said the opinion pieces, it is contradictory and counterintuitive to let these brands use and abuse sport for their marketing needs.

Sport needs funding and in the main it will come from brands that have the money, are desperate to edge ahead of the competition and need to enhance reputation and, in a more subtle way, lobby the powers that be. Sport is a great way to do that.

The combined turnover of Kraft (Cadbury), McDonald's and Coke is £116 billion - which, funnily enough is equivalent to the entire sport industry worldwide. We accept that the product they provide is not good for you if consumed in excess. But if they don't use sport then they will spend their advertising dollars elsewhere and, to be honest, I would prefer them to be driving their money into sport - funding facilities, athletes and continuing the substantial community investment they make.

Take McDonald's and their super efforts in coaching the coaches - over the course of three years they funded and ran a programme that trained 10,000 sports coaches in the UK. That's big, real impact. They did it to support their sponsorship of the England football team - the high-profile sponsorship needs to be there for the community programme to follow. Of course their motivation is not entirely altruistic - it's business - but the reality is that sport needs the private sector and it needs these companies and their funds.

The reason they back sport is it a very good proposition and I assure you the brand directors are very aware of the dichotomy - which is why we have grassroots and social development projects. These companies will advertise in one form or another. Given the choice, would you prefer that their sponsorship dollars were spent on TV commercials, posters and billboards, or point of sale branding with no community benefit? Personally, I'd prefer they invested in sport every time.

On a separate note, my personal favourite jump onto the Olympic bandwagon this week was the one delivered by Goldman Sachs, who had done an analysis of how many medals Team GB will win - 30 - and predicted that we would come third in the medal table. They held a press briefing for this. I almost expected to turn the business pages to find an in-depth interview with Tom Daley - 'The financial crisis: a high board diver's perspective.' At least that would make a splash.