Sport is in decline in this country, and one of the results of this is that many young people are insufficiently fit.
I think that Richard has rather put the cart before the horse here: young people are unfit because they do not play sport, not the other way around.
UPDATE: massive whoops! This is, of course, what Richard said. Never mind, I shall let this post stand, if only as a monument to the folly of not reading carefully enough...
Sports—and especially team sports—in this country have declined for a number of reasons. The first is the pathetic idea that either everybody wins, or nobody does; I have concentrated on this before. In the last year that I was at a state primary school (in 1985/96, I think) we had a sports day in which everyone got the same prize, simply for running the race, regardless of where one had come in that event.
But even this would not be a problem: there is, despite constant attempts by the education system to stamp out the spirit of competition, an exhiliaration to winning which often more than compensates for the lack of any physical trophy.
Unfortunately, being able to participate requires that there is actually somewhere to play it. And this is a problem because, since at least the late 70s—and with a massive acceleration from the mid-80s onwards, schools and councils have been selling off playing fields for development. This applies especially to those schools in the innner cities—which, it could be argued, need them the most—because the price of land is so high in these areas.
This has accelerated still further under NuLabour who have favoured—surprise, surprise—the PFI approach; school fields are sold to development companies who are required to install indoor facilities which the school must be able to use. Unfortunately, these facilities are usually both inadequate and expensive and, as such, the participation in sport is reduced.
And so, instead of having lessons and then a couple of hours of sport and getting out of school at about 5 (as I did), we now have kids roaming the streets from about 2.30 in the afternoon, bored out of their minds, waiting for their parents to come home from work.
I have always maintained that schools are about more than mere academic work—this is what people pay money to public schools for, by the way—but, alas, government targets pay absolutely no attention to such things, for how can they be measured?
Sure, you could take measures of "satisfaction", but how can a child know that they would love to spend their afternoons with an oxyacetylene torch, sculpting in metal (as I did), if they have never had the chance to try it? And thus, how can they possibly express dissatisfaction at the fact that their school has no such facilities?
As I have stated many times—in the face of jibes from socialists—I know what a good schooling is (as does Cameron): so, who is better to advise on the best way in which to achieve a fine education—someone who has explored all of these facilities and been encouraged to do so, or someone who has never known what a broad and extensive schooling can offer?
Education is about more than mere academic exam results, especially when those results are so devalued—the very fact that we have an A* grade testifies to the degradation of the system on its own. In fact, as Matt Sinclair wrote superbly about, education is about more than economics.