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Review of the sporting weekend

As some sports – e.g. football and rugby union – move towards the business end of their domestic seasons, others are in the early stages of their new ones, witness the European indoor athletics championships in Glasgow that featured widely upon the BBC main television channels over the weekend.

Avoiding the obvious comment that one of the reasons these hogged the weekend BBC limelight was, of course, because the television rights thereto are one of the few jewels that the Beeb has still access to (along with the FA Cup), the fact that some leading athletes had opted not to make themselves available for the meet – because it did not fit into their plans for the season, i.e. the fact that you can only ‘peak’ so often every year and it came too early – spoke volumes for the priorities of the sports’ leading personalities/exponents.

Player (or participant) welfare is a factor which plays its part in all sports, even those like elite football and rugby that arguably could be said to be year-round activities despite the stresses and strains that attend them.

These tend to compensate for such attrition-related problems by amassing huger playing squads and rotating them routinely, depending upon the importance of the tournament or competition of the moment, or indeed the quality of the opposition that they are about to play.

Look at it this way – if one takes the average life span of a human as roughly 75 years, even elite exponents of sports are going to spend between 85 and 90 percent of their time on Earth having to find other things to do with their lives no matter how successful they are.

From this perspective – given the potential attractions (not fame and fortune, not to mention supposed immortality, if Lady Luck should happen to deal things in your favour) – arguably the ‘devil’s pact’ trade-off between superstardom for whatever fleeting period it may come your way and then the likelihood of decades of coping with the resulting crippling chronic strain or other injuries or conditions caused by taking your body to its physiological limits and beyond may well be one worth taking if you possess the talent.

Is there any senior citizen male alive who as a small boy would not have given his eye teeth (and indeed a lot more besides) to have grown up to become an England test match fast bowler coming in off a long run at Lords during some future Ashes series, or to score the winning goal in an FA Cup Final, or to cross the finishing line to take the Olympic 400 metres gold medal, or even the cove who one halcyon day in July strode across the sunshine-dressed Centre Court grass in order to collect the Men’s Singles golden cup at Wimbledon in front of an adoring crowd … whatever the cost to his subsequent health and well-being?

Here are some media articles that I spotted overnight on the internet:

TRANSGENDER PARTICIPATION IN WOMEN’S SPORT

To coin a phrase, the issue of transgender rights is currently causing feminism and the world of female sport to get its knickers in a right twist.

The ‘issue of the moment’ is that being pursued by trans activists, i.e. the supposed right of anyone to ‘self-identify’ themselves as any gender they want, irrespective of which biological gender they were born into and indeed what physical, hormone or therapy journey they may or may not have taken to follow that self-identification through.

I’m an old codger, of course, but I tend to see things in black and white.

There is a fundamental problem with promoting self-identification as a right. If men can self-identify as women and immediately gain the right to participate in any female sport, then (logically) what it to stop me identifying as disabled or blind … and then taking part in the Paralympics if I can make the appropriate category’s qualifying standard?

By the same token, especially if the feminist lobby concerned is demanding ‘full equality’, (again logically) why doesn’t world sport simply abolish female sport altogether and decree that in future every human – irrespective of gender, self-identification or anything else – either play or compete in all sports together and openly?

After all, if true equality will only be achieved when a woman must be allowed to become chairman of a UK major bank if she’s good enough, why shouldn’t she be allowed to win the all-gender Olympic 400 metres final gold medal … if she’s good enough?

Here’s Sean Ingle reporting upon the latest developments in the female sport/transgender rows, as can be found of the website of – THE GUARDIAN

PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS

I’ll have to drop my prejudice against the entire concept that the card game Bridge is a sport at the front door here, but here’s the latest on the Bridge drugs scandal – Tim Lewis writes an opinion piece, as appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN

ENGLAND PREMIERSHIP RUGBY TRAVAILS

It wasn’t so long (two seasons?) ago that English rugby’s Premiership permanently stained its reputation and integrity by fudging the issue of its supposed salary cap.

Rumours had been rife for years in the media and amongst rugby fans generally that at least four – and possibly far more – of the Premiership’s top teams were playing fast and loose with the league’s financial rules. Some of them seemingly had squads containing up to fifteen players in them more than others (some of the latter clubs not having the money to spend up to the salary cap anyway) and – on top – some of them had twenty-plus players of international standard all playing for mercenary-level money as well.

Fans of other clubs were asking “How the hell does – or can – that happen?”

The answer, of course, was that it couldn’t. At least, not within the rules.

So the fudge followed. Those investigating the claims of salary cap-breaching made it known that they’d found compelling evidence – only to be met by at least two Premiership clubs (rich ones, obviously) threatening that if they revealed their findings, and/or dished out points-deduction penalties to them as a result, they’d be sued to hell and back.

So it was then announced that, although clear evidence of salary-cap breaches had been found, because of (1) the threatened legal action and (2) the act of declaring and acting upon the findings – e.g. docking guilty clubs 20 points or more each as was the possible penalty for a salary cap breach – would effectively mean that for the past ten plus months England rugby fans had been watching a sham season-long league contest, the whole issue was going to be buried under a stone and quietly forgotten.

Well, now here’s a new thing!

At Saracens, the club most often cited by those who feel the salary cap is being routinely flouted – and at which England captain was widely reported in the media this week to be on an annual salary of £750,000 – somebody is again doing some investigative ‘digging’ – see here for a report by Laura Lambert and Matt Lawton that features today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts