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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Get on with the bloody game

It looks like this week's debacle will be the last time that the Olympic torch will be toured around the world's capital cities. Good. And while we're at it can we get rid of all the attendant hoo-hah that has grown up around all major sporting occasions in order to satisfy the cravings of sponsors, TV producers, politicians and anyone else who seeks to use such events to "harness the power of sport" to sell gym pumps, energy drinks or a country's political system.

Let's also see an end of: choreographed dancing displays, huge flags passed down from the back of the stand to the front, any form of singing that could be said to be organised, ticker tape that some poor bugger has to pick up, pre-match firework displays in broad daylight that leave the action invisible for the first ten minutes, the cup "delivered" by abseiling parachutists, prize presentations that involve the hurried building of stages in the middle of the pitch, minutes' silences for any tragedy that didn't directly involve the people involved, pop singers doing melismatic versions of national anthems and, yes, even small children holding the hands of hung-over millionaires.

Anyone who thinks that major sporting occasions can be rendered more gripping by the addition of such nonsense should be disqualified from ever having anything to do with a sporting occasion. We don't need it. It gets in the way. It's nothing but trouble.

18 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:22 am

    HERE, HERE!

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  2. Colin9:35 am

    Melismatic, eh?

    Cor.

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  3. Case in point at Wembley on sunday 30 squaddies who should have been delivering tins of spam and tea for their mates in Iraq, carefully walked two large civic flags around the pitch, the effect of which was lost on 50% of the stadium as the flags where upside down for our side! Also the mascots where barely on the pitch which putting aside the faff for all involved must have been heart breaking for the kids involved, all that expectation for 30 secs.

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  4. Marketing is a scourge of the western world. It has ruined the All Blacks. And it's especially damaging when it gets close to journalism. There's a difference between an ad agency coming in to do a "re-brand" that alienates readers, and dilutes the product, and a DIY added-value/loyalty exercise such as The Word's podcast.

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  5. I'm all for ticker tape, confetti, balloons and anything that can land on the pitch and make the game more entertaining by adding comedy value. The only thing I remember from Argentina 78 is the huge amount of confetti at the home matches. I'm sure this contributed to Argentina's victory as the other teams couldn't cope with playing through two inches of the stuff. .

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  6. One small omission from your list David, which only really applies to football and rugby, which is the playing of music (often We Are The Champions) at deafening volume so drowning out the voices of the celebrating supporters.

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  7. Alun Probert12:59 pm

    There's no worse sight in sport than a bunch of Twickenham hoorays doing their dad dance to the godawful Tom Hark song.

    Six Nations games sell out a zillion times over at 65 quid a pop. I fly half way round the world to be at a game once a year. Why (oh why) do we suddenly need American style announcers and music after every score?

    By the way, confess that as a card carrying Taff, I'm actually also getting a little bit tired of "Delilah". Definite case of too much of a good thing...

    And fireworks. What's that about?

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  8. I assume you've all seen the Super Bowl - they have a ceremony for the bloody coin toss and it's sponsored too, "the Diet Pepsi Max Coin Toss" or some such nonsense.

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  9. The Nazis started the modern day Olympic torch tour to strengthen their political presence in Europe and used their quasi religio-politico-hooha to reinforce ideas about them being the intellectual and physical inheritors of the glories of ancient Greece. As if.
    Added to your views DH, several more good reasons to stop it I'd say.
    One of the athletes who carried the Olympic torch in Berlin in 1936 is remarkably still alive and can be read about here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7330949.stm

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  10. Has it ever occurred to chippy England supporters that Scots and Welsh might to more inclined to wish them sporting success if it wasn't for that bunch of gits who only know the first two bars of The Great EScape, but insist on playing it for the full 90 minutes? Frankly, it's almost enough to make you want to listen to John Motson instead.

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  11. I know what melismatic means, but what are gym pumps?

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  12. Backroads, they're pumps, daps, sandshoes, sannies, depending on where you went to school: cheap rubber-soled canvas shoes worn for indoor school sports lessons.

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  13. er.. thanks Ken. I knew really but am obviously crap at irony.

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  14. I mostly agree with this but there are two things that make me unsure.
    1. At MK Dons, after a goal is scored they play a bit of Chelsea Tractor and everyone stands up and... well there's a bit of a dance thing ... if they did it at an old established club it would be crap but at a young club it seems good fun.
    2. Without opening ceremonies we would never have been treated to the "spectacle" of Diana Ross miskicking a ball and the goal exploding when the ball tricled past it at the US hosted World Cup.

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  15. Can we also add to your purge the embarrassment of marketing -led team nicknames? Broncos, bulls, rhinos etc. Shame on you, rugby league.

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  16. geedubyapee9:20 pm

    I agree about the RL. I follow Castleford and they were at least already known as Tigers, but what's with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats? Whats's wrong with just 'Trinity'? I know someone who still calls Bradford 'Northern' - quite right too.

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  17. Also those toe-curling opening ceremonies which involves sprites and nymphs performing some form of bizarre dance interpretation complete with cloying, and nauseous scripted commentary that it always seems Barry Davies is unlucky enough to have to read out.

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  18. The non-event in San Francisco was the culmination for me. Where else could you see Chinese Americans waving communist flags and yak wool wearing environmentalists united with right wing China bashers to extinguish the Olympic flame? It's enough to make one cynical.

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