Just occasionally I’d like to write about actual sport…
In an age where everyone with a keyboard and a set of fingers is a blogger, half the world seems to be calling themselves “social commentators”. This has always seemed a pretentious, self-aggrandising and above all, meaningless title.
Social commentary is like parenting. Most of us do it in private, but only some are vain enough to write about it publicly. Not me. I write mostly about sport for a living. You’d never catch me penning tedious social commentary. Oh, wait a minute…
The thing about sports writing these days is you spend most of your time writing about anything but sport. Look at the last week. It started with a rowing spat, and ended with the D’Arcy/Monk gun pics saga.
For what it’s worth, which is incredibly little, I consider D’Arcy and Monk complete twats. In this case, however, they were hard done by. Their early send-home from the London Olympics for a happy snap on a gun range was ridiculous AOC heavy-handedness, especially since we now know the whole swimming team once did the same thing.
Like I say, though, you don’t need me or any other trumped-up “social commentator” to tell you it was stupid. As our Punch column on Friday showed, you’re all overwhelmingly qualified to decide that for yourself.
As things stand now, I’m officially bored of Nick D’Arcy. And by the way, D’Arcy’s best time in the 200m butterfly is a full three seconds slower than Michael Phelps’s, so I’m not convinced we’ll be any more excited about him come London.
From my perspective, and I believe that of my readers, I reckon the only time a sports writer’s moralising is worth reading is when the foibles of human behaviour collide simultaneously with the onfield action. That’s what made coverage of the Sally Robbins story so engrossing, and it’s what makes the ongoing Tiger Woods story such a beauty.
Woods won an important golf tournament last week, with a shot late in the fourth round described as one of the best ever. Which is all very exciting if you like little white balls rolling into holes, but it’s a thousand times more interesting set against the background of Woods’s recovery from sheer humiliation at the hands of about a million cocktail waitresses.
Another fascinating unfolding story this week is American basketballer LeBron James. He’s the self-important tosser who starred in a one hour national TV Special in 2010 called “The Decision”, in which he announced he was leaving his old club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for the Miami Heat.
The Decision provoked a huge debate on whether loyalty is dead in sport. So this weekend, LeBron’s Miami Heat won through to the NBA finals. That means we all get to argue whether that coveted NBA ring will actually mean anything, and we get to have that debate in real time, as the man dubbed “King James” drips his regal sweat on the parquetry floor.
When sporting action and moral dilemmas collide, boom! We’ve all got ourselves something worth reading and writing about. It’ll happen plenty of times at the London Olympics and my keyboard and I can hardly wait.
But when two 20-something dickheads play Pulp Fiction at a gun range, or when pissheads like Fevola or Todd Carney get on the turps yet again, or when a bunch of chicks turn up and play footy in their undies as they did this week, spare me.
I felt sorry for former rugby league boss David Gallop last week, and not just because of the cut-throat manner of his dismissal. For all his good works, my enduring image of the guy is him fronting up yet another press conference after some idiot had shat in a hotel hallway, or performed some similar atrocity.
Sports is nothing without narrative. Take away the back story and it’s nothing but a bunch of muscly people running or jumping or swimming around in circles. We all like to read about the people behind the athletes. But David Gallop didn’t sign up to be a frontline soldier in the morality corps, and neither did I.
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