CC Issue 44 / Sport

The Fortnight in Sport: What the Hell Has Happened to Sport?

What?

As usual Checkerboard Collective reserves the right to define a “fortnight” and to whine as much as it wants. In this issue we wonder what the hell has happened to sport.

  1. Pyrotechnics – Watching the gladiatorial conquerers of world rugby enter the sporting arena as flamethrowers send shots of fire into the night’s air can make for good slow-motion replays, but when I saw the same technique used at the cricket during this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy it went beyond comical. No one can doubt the need for character, mental fortitude and talent in cricket, but barring a few television executives, most people would concede that a sport played in pyjamas and with tea breaks does not mesh all that well with flamethrowers.
  2. Music – Some sporting events are parties – there is no other way around it. The Kentucky Derby, the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong: these were events to be devoured in drunken mayhem. Nowadays the Super Bowl is mostly a party – Americans from all walks of life get together to watch three hours of commercials and an hour long concert peppered with the occasional smattering of large men in tights and shiny helmets running on and off an indoor synthetic pitch. These events make little to no sense when sober (whether your poison of choice is a dozen jugs of lager or 20 lbs. of Super Cheezy Jalapeno Nachos). So when you throw music on the PA after a try at a Sevens tournament, or during a commercial break at a NFL game, fine. But when a struggling Premier League side scores a last gasp injury time goal to end a rotten run of form and possibly turn their season around, do you really want to hear some rubbish pumping out over the loudspeakers?
  3. Hyperbolic Analysis – Arsenal lost the first match of their league campaign and just about every football commentator and Arsenal supporter lost their mind. Manchester United lost in a similar position last year but still won the title. I know there are multiple factors for the unrest in North London, but a quick look at the news and you would think there is a greater crisis on our hands now than the Blackberry Riots of a few years ago. Elsewhere in England, Australia are currently slumping towards one of the worst Ashes defeats in their history. Hey, shit happens. Sometimes you have good players, sometimes you have bad ones. Sometimes you have a bad day and sometimes you have a good one. When you have more bad ones than good ones maybe the selectors will think about whether you should be in the side. All the constant analysis and criticism that goes on in today’s 24/7 satellite TV/internet world does absolutely nothing for sport. Sport lovers love sport. Simple as that. Just like dogs like to eat food. But you tease a dog with a steak all day, sure he’ll bite your arm off when it finally comes to feeding time. We already want sport, we don’t need to be teased all the time with it. Give us the steak or sod off.
  4. Twitter – If athletes would not say certain things in front of a camera they shouldn’t type these things into their phones. And if they do type into their phones things they wouldn’t say in front of a camera, the media should just not give a toss.
  5. Performance Enhancing Drugs – “But, officer, everyone else was going 15 mph over the speed limit as well!” “Yeah? Well I pulled you over, Lance/A-Rod/et al.” Rules are rules. You may not like the rules – at which point I suggest you probably take up another sport – but they are there regardless. So you can choose to obey them or you can bend them or break them. People cheat all the time. Footballers dive, racers push the boundaries of the track while their engineers test the manufacturing restrictions, cricketers contravene the Spirit of the Game. They should be punished, but punishment must also match the offense. So when it is made clear that performance enhancing drugs are one of the most offensive acts in a sport, no one should play the victim when they are caught, no matter how many offenders wander around. Rules can be nebulous. Why is a synthetic knee ligament OK but not a certain drug common in cold medicine? Both enhance performance. Well, one is banned and one isn’t. It always a subjective choice when deciding how to maintain a competitive edge in sporting competitions, but with PEDs it is not subjective as to whether or not you broke the rules (and lied about it for years while pretending to be Sporting Jesus).
  6. Blogs – Everyone’s got an opinion nowadays. Bloody hell.
  7. Money and Role Models – How many role models do you know who make a million pounds a month? Sure, sure, there probably are some. But money breeds insularity, ignorance and idiocy. Sportsmen used to make a comparable wage to the average person. As such, they behaved in a similar manner. They respected managers because they picked the squad, they respected fans because the ticket sales paid their wages, they respected journalists because they praised or criticised them. When you make ONE MILLION POUNDS A MONTH why would you respect anyone? You make more than the manager. You are worth more than the manager, so he will get fired before you get the boot. There are always other fans willing to buy a ticket. Hell, nowadays fans don’t care if you spit in their face, they’ll be back the next week (footballing proof: Liverpool fans defending Saurez in the face of racism allegations, Manchester United fans acceptance of the Glazers hemorrhaging the club with mind-boggling interest fees, everyone making a fuss at the high cost of away tickets at Arsenal but attending matches anyways). Secondly what are these buffoons paid to do? They are paid to play sport. They are paid because they can kick a ball, run fast, tackle hard, drive like maniacs, bowl a perfect line and length. These talents are completely unrelated to what society would deem as behavior of a role model. Just because you can play sport well does not mean you know how much money should be spent on a house, whether or not you should urinate on a club bouncer, whether you should take pictures of yourself burning bills of a rather large currency and post them on Instagram. Surprising that when you give young people a lot of money, a lot of free time, a lot of importance ( and then little exposure to the real problems most of the world face, little education) they would cease to behave like a majority of humanity and in direct opposition to that of a role model.
  8. Animated advertisement hoardings – Jesus Christ, stop them, stop them now! I’m already checking my phone every 15 seconds to see if my Chess games are up to date, if anyone posted anything new on Instagram, and what is being said on the minute-by-minute report of the game that I SHOULD be watching. Please let me enjoy the 5 minutes I do spend watching a sporting event!
  9. Honesty – We do not need press agents. Press agents ruin already mentally challenged professional athletes. Let them say what they want. If they say something stupid, because they are stupid, they should be laughed at and hopefully learn a lesson and become smarter. Instead athletes are spoon-fed, PG-rated crap from press agents so they remain inoffensive and therefore highly marketable for sponsorship opportunities. Bullshit. Let these people talk. Treat them like humans and maybe they’ll behave like humans. Treat them like idiots and pre-determine what they say in public and guess what, they’ll behave like idiots.
  10. Bullet-points – Can no one write a proper article anymore? What has happened to balanced prose and deft transitions from point to point? Are we sport fans so stupid that we have to be fed bullet-points to skim over when we get bored half a sentence into a paragraph?

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