How Sport mirrors our bat-shit crazy world!
Oscar Wilde wrote about life imitating art. If the Irish playwright was around today, one wonders if he’d agree with our assessment that sport imitates the state of the world, in its mirroring of mass madness?
Just last week, a blond bugaboo named Boris had to resign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom because almost his entire cabinet walked out on him. This all started with the man daring to have a few Pimms with Lemonade alongside several unmasked friends during the Great Covid Swindle.
There was major upheaval in the normally peaceful Netherlands, where farmers are protesting en masse for their simple right to continue farming on their owned lands. Long and short of it – the Dutch Government needs acres of land to house hordes of immigrants and are threatening to simply expropriate what they need, Zimbabwe-style. Bye Bye, wonderful Holland!
In Harleston, Norfolk, a 16-year-old boy rocked up at a school prom in a snazzy red dress in an effort to “express his feminine side” and is said to have received “millions of social media views” in support. “He’s been promising this for four years, we are so proud,” enthused his mother.
Elsewhere, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, continued his see-sawing with the Board of Twitter by pulling out of his widely publicised takeover deal. It has been speculated that more than 25% of Twitter’s alleged followers could be robots. Musk, in the same week, dropped by the Pope’s place for tea, introducing the Pontifex to four of his male offspring. His transgender child failed to make the trip.
Let’s look at how the week of sport reflected this awkward moving and shaking of the world, in what appears to be similar attempts to establish new parameters or enforce old ones in a time of woe, wickedness and will-o-the-wisps.
At Wimbledon, a strange Greek dude named Nick Kyrgios entered the final through the back door, ranked 40. In between some power serves but also piss-poor shots aimed in the direction of Novak Djokovic, Kyrgios, who represents Australia, spoke loudly and embarrassingly to his coach, the referee, the linesmen, the ball boys, representatives of the royal family and his own. This carried on for two hours. Viewers tuning in to tennis for the first time in a while would’ve thought an inmate from “Cuckoo’s Nest” had escaped and was on the loose on centre court. Kyrgios even asked for a woman in the crowd to be removed. He believed she’d had ‘700 drinks’ and was intimidating him.
After the match, the champ Djokovic also did some strange things. He sat down near the net, tasted the perennial ryegrass as if it was a delicacy, then lay on his stomach and made flying gestures. Kyrgios calmed down, played with his runner-up’s trophy like it was a frisbee. There was post-match talk between the pair of a ‘Bromance’, dinner and drinks and ‘going nuts at a night club’.
“He’s awkward, weird, but very talented with a lot of love in him somewhere. He’s good for the game, all the big tournaments want him on their roll,” said one commentator about Kyrgios.
In football, Christiano Ronaldo reportedly accepted a six-figure bonus cheque from Manchester United just hours before telling them he wants out of the club. While he still has an affinity for the embattled Reds, his ego demands that he plays European Championship Football one more time at his ripe old age, which Manchester United are not able to guarantee. Paul Pogba, meanwhile, arrived to a hero’s song-and-dance at Juventas, where he refused to sign a devoted fan’s Manchester United shirt. The reduced £300,000 -a-week offer from his old club was a proper slap in the face.
The ruby world is upside down, with some authorities calling for more discipline and others crying out for the game as it was traditionally played.
At the weekend, All Black Coach Ian Foster said that Test rugby is at risk of turning into a “card festival” after New Zealand were on the receiving end of scrupulous officiating by the typically South African attention-seeker Jaco Pyper in their second Test defeat to Ireland in Dunedin.
Foster was supported by England coach Eddie Jones, who said the use of cards was becoming a joke in the wake of his team’s 25-17 second Test win over Australia in Brisbane.
“The game’s gone out of control. We saw the New Zealand-Ireland test, at one stage the commentators couldn’t count how many players were on the field,” Jones said. “We’ve gone the full hog, where everything is a yellow card, everything is a red card. There needs to be some common sense come back into the game.”
Also in rugby, South African fans are calling for the head of coach Jacques Nienaber, a man they’ve nick-named, ‘the mad scientist’ following his unprecedented experiment with 14 new players in their test match against Wales.
In horseracing, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori kissed and made up even before images of their sour faces and breakup after Royal Ascot had reached all media outlets. We’re also seeing more and more racing personalities doing their bit for charity and it’s rather weird, because the first thought that comes to mind is, ‘are they really doing it for charity, or to make the people of racing look kind-hearted and generous in these times of concerted attacks on our sport’? It’s ok either way, we guess.
Former US trainer Jenine Sehadi told TRC in an interview: “I know there are bad actors in racing; there are bad actors in every aspect of life. But we need to start defending the industry, that is from the sport’s leadership down through the media. I’m so sick of comparisons with Lance Armstrong and doping. In some instances hateful, spiteful rhetoric is presented as fact and it’s infuriating that people believe it.
“Racing has a good story to tell too and it is so unfortunate what we tend to hear more of is that trainers with drug positives are dopers and cheaters. This game has pivoted a lot, particularly in California, since 2019.”
In Golf, rebel tour leader Greg Norman has been sensationally banned from taking part in the 150th Open celebrations at St Andrews. The double Open winner has been told he will not be welcome at next week’s Champions Dinner, or the star-studded four-hole celebration shoot-out at the Old Course on Monday. Players are defecting to his LIV tour for cash. Golf, as we knew it, is already markedly different to what it was last year!
Lastly, about Formula One. Through hard work, market research and investment, F1 TV and authorities made this a benchmark for all sports presentations this last decade. But – and this is just an opinion – now that Max Verstappen has finally assumed the throne at the expense of Lewis Hamilton, it feels as if some of the essential core has been ripped from F1 and every Sunday’s just a boring old, ‘round-and-round it goes, and nobody knows’. (Or cares). Can they push it to new heights again? Off the set, Hamilton himself walks around in technicolour dream coats and looks mildly disinterested.
Overall, our rapidly changing world with its new morals, new laws, new likes and dislikes and constantly evolving trends is influencing sports across the board. Start preparing for an era in which what we are familiar with will become largely irrelevant. The sports we love and treasure will be replaced by activities like Urban Surfing, Hover Boarding, Low Gravity Soccer, Summit Mountaineering Challenges and E-sports – multiplayer video games played competitively in front of an audience. They are usually played by professional gamers, called e-athletes.
Are you ready? Best, perhaps, to take a strong alcoholic drink, go with the flow and take comfort in William Shakespeare’s oft-quoted estimation: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” (Just remember to wear a mask if you’re pissing it up in a group). -IRC.