Monday, January 01, 2007

The problem with the tax credit for kids' sports

They have or are going to introduce a tax credits for costs associated with kids' sports, but it only applies for certain sports that are deemed to involved sufficient physical activity.

There's one major problem with this scheme that I haven't seen mentioned yet: it's the kids who have to do the sports, but the parents get the tax credit. If we assume that the tax credit is sufficient motivation to get people to change their behaviour (which I don't actually think it is, but since this seems to be one of the key assumptions behind this plan I'm taking it as a given for the moment), then the parents are motivated to have their kids do sports from the approved list. But it doesn't provide any motivation for the kids themselves. It isn't motivating people to have an active lifestyle, it's motivating people to force other people to do certain physical activities that have been approved by a third party. There's nothing in it for the people who are actually doing the physical activities. If the kids want to do the approved sports, they'll be doing the sports anyway. If the kids don't want to do the approved sports, their parents are more likely to be making them do it anyway for the parents' own personal gain. As I've blogged about extensively before, being forced to do sports in childhood simply makes you hate sports in adulthood, and adulthood is much longer than childhood. So if this tax credit does have the social engineering effect it's intended to have, it will simply make more people hate sports in the long term.

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