Friday, July 28, 2006
By Simon Barnes
THIS is no longer a viable sport. I don’t think we can duck this conclusion. The likelihood that Floyd Landis, the dramatic and brilliant winner of the Tour de France, was stoned out of his head on testosterone is the final nail in the coffin. Professional cycling, of the stage-racing kind, has lost all credibility.
Such a shame.
Sport is dead when citius, altius, fortius is replaced by fixius, drugius, corruptiusBy Simon Barnes
[...] Today, we expect to hear the decisions on the Italian football match-fixing scandal. Matches and, by extension, championships have been won not by the brilliance of footballers, but by clout, money, pressure, nudges, winks, what’s in it for me and we’ll see you right. The football itself is a sham, going through the motions. The real action takes place on the telephone in the weeks before the game.
[...] Every time a drugs story hits the sports pages, there are letters written by smart alecs who ask: “Why bother to catch them? Why not let them take anything they want and let the best pharmacist win?” The fact is that people who like sport don’t want to watch doped athletes.
[...] These three things — match-fixing, race-fixing, institutionalised drugging — come down to the same thing, and it is the greatest error in all of professional sport. The error in question is that sport is about winning. Winning at all costs. That winning is not the most important thing, but the only thing.
In other words, too much money, too easily given out.
People are so hungry for entertainment, aren't they? They just want to devour gobs of it. And will dish out colossal amounts of money for it.
And you know that other thing that irritates me profoundly in sports? It's the fabrication of a false hero, which most atheletes are - an egotistical little maniac who doesn't do anything relevant to any serious problem in the world but who is continuously lauded by other morons and glorified beyond belief.
I mean, what big achievement is it to kick a ball into some rectangular area? Or use a little shtick to tap another little sphere into a hole? Or fling some bouncing ball over a net? Did they save a single life doing that? No. Did they find a cure for a disease? No. Did they do anything meaningful? NO. It's like a circus clown, who succeeds in twirling 5 pins all at once. Bravo. But the sports commentators language just revel in hero-speak. Yes, he went through grueling training for years to twirl those five pins! His discipline! His courage! Not 2, not 3, but 5 pins! He has class as he twirls, he is very talented with pins! No one can twirl a pin like he can. He didn't know if he was going to be able to twirl all five pins up to the last moment... suspense! And so it goes... but what did he really do? Nothing. A clown -- in a world avid and desperate for entertainment.
And if there are millions of dollars to be grabbed if you twirl your pin just a little higher than the rest, well, there you go. The end of anything even remotely beautiful. Even the artificial sports spinned tale of a "big achievement" in life is destroyed and the swamp swells and takes over.