Morpheus on… Sport

From the start, I should make it clear that I am an ex-pat Brit retired to Thailand and have VERY little interest in sport. So… bye-bye!

Hang on – it was not always thus. Back in the Sixties, I liked heavyweight boxing. I got what Clay/Ali was doing and was curious to see how anyone would beat his technique – which consisted of constantly backing up, with his guard down, inviting (or on occasion, taunting) his opponent to come and get him.

And oh, they tried. But he was QUICK – that head would bob and weave and blows rarely found their target. Eventually, the opponents – having put everything they had into their attempts to clean his clock – would tire. Then the Black Superman would move in…

As a boy, I had no idea what those sixteen-round bruisings (the last four often resembled the end of one of those Twenties “dancing” contests – which would be settled by those who could just remain STANDING) DID to those who fought them.

Sadly, Clay/Ali found out…

Then again, today’s fighters are more wily: a quick rise to the top – a couple of title defences – then OUT, before your eggs get scrambled. And they only go for TWELVE rounds.

For a while, I liked golf. But that was when you CARED who won…

Then, in the Seventies, I warmed to tennis. A simple, graceful, easy-to-understand game, with a simple yet effective scoring system.

Totally unlike football, where 0-0 is the ideal result from two and a half hours of running about – followed by the penalty-shootout. Why don’t they just do THAT?

Then there is cricket – whose scoring system is incomprehensible – unless it rains: in which case no matter how far ahead a team is – they up-stumps and call it a DRAW.

The only time tennis hit a problem was when the technology got out of hand.

When that happened with another sport I liked – F1 racing – the response was to progressively CASTRATE the thing. They cut the straights in twain with chicanes, banned skirts (“ground effect”) got rid of turbos, nailed BOARDS to the underneath of the cars, introduced petrol consumption limits (hardly in the spirit of RACING) then ruined the tyres with grooves, more grooves and reduced widths.

Of course, if today all of those limits were done away with, while the cars would do STAGGERING speeds, the drivers would BLACK OUT on the corners. And any that didn’t would be unlikely to survive ANY crash, given the speeds they would achieve.

The only way to avoid CARNAGE would be to RC all the cars (and position the crowds at least a mile back from the track).

However, with tennis, the solution to advancing tech was simple: lower the tension settings of the racquets and redesign the balls – make them heavier and fluffier.

The problem had been that the male, big-hitting baseline players had gotten to the point where nearly every shot was an ACE.

This got BORING and many fans began watching WOMEN’S games instead – there, you got RALLIES. And that would not DO – the women may have now been earning the same as the chaps (despite only having to play three sets instead of five) – but they were WOMEN, for chrissakes.

Anyhoo – the ball and racquet changes sorted the problem overnight. And now the Wimbers Number One court has a ROOF (does the audience sing the “Thunderbirds” theme, when it opens and closes? I don’t know – it hasn’t happened yet, while I’ve been watching).

But these days, having watched tennis for forty years, I find it bores me. There are only so many moves that can be made.

Likewise Snooker – which I have also watched for forty years.

And golf.

The problem with ALL of these games is that thanks to the money, everything is so damn SERIOUS these days – there are no CHARACTERS in sport anymore (apart from a few thugs).

MONEY – that’s what’s ruined sport.

A town’s football team used to be a bunch of local chaps having a bit of fun at the weekend – now it’s a bunch of guys, most of whom are not even ENGLISH, never mind local – “bought” for MILLIONS.

Most “supporters” of Man U have never been to Manchester, let alone seen a game there. Some have never even visited ENGLAND…

And a nasty side-effect of the MONEY – are the DRUGS.

It was bad enough when sportsmen and sportswomen WRECKED their bodies to be competitive (like, Russia’s gymnastic dancers were given treatments to delay their puberty – and had pregnancies “induced” then aborted to give them an “edge” – and their shot-putters had to have sex-tests to determine they were FEMALE) but when high-tech doping became the norm…

Has anyone EVER won a Tour De France on plain orange juice?

It has been suggested there should be TWO Olympic games: one with regular, “clean” athletes – and one with Frankensteinian, drugged-up FREAKS, who would turn in ridiculous but exciting results. Hmm.

Talking of the Olympics…

The original point of them was that countries would send their AMATEUR players to emulate the feats achieved at the original Greek games, which in turn had converted natural athletic analogues into a variety of sports – where spears became javelins, bushes became hurdles, rocks became shots and so on.

Thus running, jumping, fighting and hunting techniques became organised contests.

But today, we have synchronised drowning, beach volleyball and dressage.

Really? Well, I have two extra disciplines for the IOC’s consideration: human speed trials and Routemaster pole-vaulting…

The human speed trials would involve a single lane down the side of the field with a run up, a tape, a strip of open ground, another tape, then a run-down area.

The two tapes would be a precisely-measured distance apart – say, five metres – and they would be connected to a simple timer which would compute the speed from the time between the breaking of the first and second tapes.

It would require less computing power than your pocket calculator.

Then the speed would be instantly displayed in KPH and MPH (KPH would mean zip to Americans) – down to the thousandth of a second.

The only rules would concern footwear and the fact that runners would have to stay UPRIGHT from tape to tape (no diving for the second tape) and BREAST them (no touching with the hands or arms).

Twenty-eight MPH would currently be the target to aim for – although I’m sure Lance Armstrong could raise that to forty…


Finally, in this rambling: Routemaster pole-vaulting. The standard Routemaster (for American readers: the classic red London bus, pictured above) is fourteen feet six inches tall (-ish). This elevation was reached by pole in the late thirties.

But the object overcome was just a BAR – a Routemaster is eight feet wide. Therefore the height needed to CLEAR it would be somewhat higher.

However, it ought to be possible. The current World record is still held by a Russian (now Ukranian) – one Sergey Bubka. An apparently “clean” athlete, he dominated the sport during the Eighties and Nineties, with leaps consistently over twenty feet – an achievement equalled by NO other athlete.

But the top guys today regularly do over nineteen feet, which OUGHT to be enough to clear a Routemaster, right?

Now THAT I’d pay to see…

[For another take on this subject, from my evil twin, hit…]


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cy Quick on March 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

    The truth is that there are guys who like physical contest, including Games & Racing which are not Sport, and those who do not. As for Fighting, it is part of Sport. A G Street used to point out that Sport was activity involving violence like Hunting, Fishing, and Fighting. Compact size guys, like me, find all this exertion-without-purpose silly and pointless. Except in moments of weakness…

    I used to get caught up, temporarily, in the puerile excitement of a bicycle or motor race (but not a horse race – that is shabby mistreatment of the only critter, aside from fellow apes and WORKING dogs, that ought to be allowed to co-habit Earth with humans).

    I ADORE your Bus Vaulting! It would be the apex of English eccentricity, which is all we have left. Has it been done before? If not, get a formal letter in to the student unions of the Oxford and Cambridge unis I suggest.

  2. Posted by Vincent on March 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    My pieces on sport were sorta light-hearted and slightly (ONLY slightly) tongue-in-cheek. But I wholeheartedly agree on the issue of horse-racing – the cruelty there is atrocious.

    And the excesses that humans go through are almost as bad. Apart from the performance-enhancing drugs and techniques (like the Russians used to retard girls’ growth and impregnate and abort babies in them to produce those medal-winning gymnasts) just the lengths people go to now… those weight-lifters f’rinstance – can’t be good for you, that.

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