Bernhard Peters on the 2020 Olympic Games

The 2020 Olympic Games are history. The year in which they were held was different, and the performance of the German teams in the games sports was also different from what had been hoped for. In the medal table ranks behind the team sports a big 0.

It should come as no surprise what significance the Olympic Games have for us. Our entire team at BPTC Sports has been shaped by Bernhard Peter’s experience and no sporting event has greater significance for Bernhard than the Olympic Games. Therefore, as in many other offices, the live streams of the broadcasts were always running in the background in order to ignite as much of the Olympic spirit as possible. From the German point of view, there were some exciting moments, such as Alexander Zverev from Hamburg winning the gold medal in the tennis singles. However, the Games were also marked by disillusionment from the German perspective. Especially from the point of the German game sports.

Retrospectively, there were already numerous signs of the later results in the team competitions during the qualification for these games. The German women’s soccer team, the men’s volleyball team, no German representatives in water polo or rugby – the number of participating German teams alone was not very satisfactory. The performance of the participating teams continued the chain of imponderables. No medal won and early elimination of teams were more the rule than the exception. The teams often fell short of their own and the sports enthusiasts’ expectations.

But what can be assumed to be the reasons for this underperformance? Are the faults to be found in the daily work of the teams or do the problems lie deeper? Bernhard Peters shed light on these questions in an interview with Sportschau. The most important statements, in order to nourish potential sources of error and approaches to solutions, you can find in the following.

It is difficult to provide a one-dimensional explanation at this point. Rather, some parallel developments and causes lead to the recent results. “In general, we have a hard time with development in the high-performance area because the levels below it, the children’s, advanced and performance areas, are not systematically educated. The natural implementation of playing around independently is no longer there for the children.” According to Bernhard Peters, there is also a lack of comprehensive training of children’s coaches across the various sports: “I also believe that we have missed out on educating qualified children’s coaches across the board in many game sports, who can build up playing ability according to children’s needs and with good pedagogical skills. In the past, this was done casually by trying things out on the street, with climbing and free play; today, free time is often completely scheduled.” The increasing number of tournaments and games is another major reason why strategic preparation for the Olympics, or sustained development of players for a specific event, has become fundamentally more difficult. “Handball is a cautionary example of how a national coach, whether the current one or the previous one, can no longer manage systematic performance improvement at all because the multitude of games nationally and in the European competition system totally pressures the players. In a three-day rhythm, people only think in terms of results, and targeted preparation for the Olympics is never possible. There are no medium-term training and education phases at all, building up absolute top performance for the individual and the team falls by the wayside.”

The general lack of movement among children, which has been steadily increasing for years according to numerous studies and statistics, poses a further challenge to sports. A challenge that associations and clubs can hardly change on their own: “The lack of movement multiplies in a highly technological country when children spend hours just sitting in front of a computer, smartphone or calculator. The lost time in training is not so easy to make up for. When will politicians, healthcare politicians, finally understand that this is becoming a social problem when obesity and diabetes are already brutally on the rise among children in our health insurance systems. There the federations and clubs need much more financial support, in order to stop preventively by sport.” The lack of results, sporting enthusiasm, and role models, such as now at the Olympics or previously at the UEFA European Championships, reinforces this problem. Because children need role models: “Idols are created so that the broad masses emulate them, from which the next top players in handball, basketball or field hockey will grow. But if there are too few shining examples at the top, the training work tends to become more difficult.”

It is striking that gender discrimination can also be seen in sports, especially in game sports. Here, German sports can take their cue from Anglo-American role models: “I can only say that in Anglo-American countries, women’s sports are more important, for example, women’s soccer in the USA. Women’s sports are better established in the competitive sports culture. The problem is that the high-performance sector is even less economically secure for women than for men if we think of soccer, handball, field hockey, or basketball. A woman has to think much more about whether she should really neglect her professional or school education for sports.”

As Bernhard explained at the beginning, there is no one-dimensional explanation for the underperformance of German games sports at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, initial starting points for improvement can be revealed, and that is precisely what we are concerned with. What can we do to improve the current challenges in the German sports landscape and professional sports?
“We need to introduce new models of thinking in the management and development of a sports content concept with active participation thinking at federations and clubs […]. But first of all, we have to fascinate children again for the idea that it is an outstanding feeling to win together in a functioning team or to be picked up even in case of defeat. In the course of many egoistic developments in society, this has increasingly fallen aside. Children and young people also no longer want such tough competitive structures; they want to be freer. That’s why we need a lot of new approaches with small teams, small areas so that the individual child can develop intuitive playing skills again. Many of our movement talents don’t even get into the systems. But this requires different structures: associations and clubs that are bogged down in day-to-day business will no longer be able to do this. We need systematic and substantive improvements in the game sports.”

This is exactly where we approach such challenges with BPTC. Our solutions are just as individual and personal as the challenges. With BPTC Sports, we support associations and clubs in their individual sports development. With the High Performance Sports Institute, we expand the competencies of individuals to prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow’s sports world. We are striving for structural change with our “Hamburg bewegt Kids” initiative by offering daycare and elementary school children a wide range of different, child-friendly exercise options with the help of educated and qualified children’s coaches. In this way, we want to do our part to improve the world of sports so that we can once again celebrate extraordinary Olympic moments of success as soon as possible.

Further insights into the current problems of the German sports world and the solution approaches of Bernhard Peters and BPTC can be found in the FAZ interview “Diese Entwicklung hat dramatische Auswirkungen” from Saturday, 14.08.21.

Source: Hellmann, Frank (05.08.2021), „Mannschaftssportarten bei Olympia
Bernhard Peters: “Kein Team, das wirklich Begeisterung erzeugen konnte”“,