Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sport- Cheating Itself

So Simon Barnes of The Times has heralded F1's latest scandal as the "worst act of cheating in the history of sport". But is the recent revelation that Neslon Piquet Jnr was obeying orders to crash really so horrifying? That the thought of a team mate deliberately sacrificing himself for the sake of the greater collective should be perceived as unsportsmanlike and what is worse ungentlemanly, seems a somewhat warped sense of sport's significance.

The duplicitous F1 driver, the diving footballer, the joke-shop rugby player are all hung out to dry while sport massages its cleansed ego with the self satisfied hand that has turfed out the skeletons from its closet.

But what has pushed sport to such lows in the first place? Is it indeed the ever increasing demands of a professional industry driven by a results at all costs mindset or could it perhaps be something far more disturbing; the very nature of sport itself advocates cheating.

The intended moral mantra inspired by sport's chivalric background is still ever-present. Victory necessitates sacrifice, but now stuffy rules and regulation consign "true heroes" like Nelson Piquet Jnr to sport's growing legacy of shamed stars.

Bending the rules is part of sport and if you bend them correctly and in a gentlemanly manner you are the maverick genius, but over step the mark and... Well.

So why is Nelson Piquet Jnr, a man brave enough to risk his own life for his team, chosen as the fall guy for such a title rather than the far more duplicitous cheaters such as drug enhanced sprinters?

Piquet is a victim of sport's prevailing chivalric code, because at the heart of sport's ideal lies the essence of its downfall. Sport necessitates a winner, bestows glory and forgets the vanquished- no matter what primary school sports days may have you believe...

Victory necessitates sacrifice and is ingrained in all patriotic cultures, drummed out in national anthems and glorified in works of art.

But apologies, I am being facetious. Sport's ideals have come a long way from the rugby fields of Eton (and thank God it has!)- the cause is no longer reserved to the "noble" and instructive values of the aspiring nobility - it has become powered by the machinery of professionalism and "infected" by money- gone are the days of glorious amateurism bla bla bla...

But if we were for once to peel back our own delusion that sport can still be entirely noble then we may start to understand, and even condone his actions. His ludicrous attempt to emulate sacrifice reveals the folly and nobility that is simultaneously the curse and blessing of sport- Victory at all costs is sport's new mantra.

Don't blame Piquet, blame sport and be grateful for those glorious cheats who have rescued sport from the past.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Murray's Mountain

So yet another Grand Slam has drawn to an end and Murray is nowhere in sight.

This is not an inditement of his flaws, merely an observation. Murray came mighty close at the US Open and the subsequent Wimbledon to conquering the his Grand Slam daemons, but each time has fallen short.

Either bad luck or inspired opponents have come between him and the holy grail of any young hopeful.

However, this US Open champion has a commodity that Murray can never attain or recover- Juan Martin Del Potro is younger at 20 years old and is being heralded as the potential future of mens tennis.

Murray is no longer the young, no longer the hopeful. He cannot merely threaten to fulfill; he must succeed in conquering.

Murray has had bad luck- Cillic was inspired, Roddick at Wimbledon- a man in the form of his life and Federer, well...

Murray certainly has the capacity and game to win, but he has been unlucky one too many times for him to be so certain of the Grand Slam that has been earmarked for him by so many.

Bad luck can stack up and a man's destiny can slip from a his grasp. Bad luck then seems like destiny and a man destined to win can become doomed to fail.

Although Murray's understated interviews and dour voice reveal very little about the man's desire and hunger for Grand Slam glory, it is certain that the more time passes the more desperate he will be for what his talent is owed.

Murray's game is built on the counter punch and the break- both relatively defensive weapons. His skill is astounding and tactical nous unparalleled, but it might also prove his downfall. Murray is not proactive; he absorbs and reacts and so will never dominate his opponents in the manner in which Del Potro, Nadal and Federer can.

Murray must learn to become more aggressive before he can win, must learn to fear defeat more that he fears not winning.

For the time being Murray the "fox" is anxiously looking over his shoulder at the slavering pack of hopefuls snapping at his heels. Let us hope he is overtaken with silverware in his hands.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Getting started

Space...a daunting frontier.

Rather like one of those dreadful creative writing exercises- a blank canvas is unsurprisingly an uninspiring starting point.

But here goes, losing my blogging virginity; dipping my toe in the murky water of anonymous expression.

The problem of starting points

Inevitably we go through many different starting points in our lives. First day of school, first (and last) art class and first love. In most of these life choices we have little to no say, particularly in the latter, but there is still an element, no matter how small, of choice.

But in the biggest and most dramatic of starts of all we have no freedom to choose at all. We cannot choose our genetic makeup, something that will ultimately determine what we are good at- regardless of if we want to be or not.

Strange to think that the ridiculous cliche of whimpered teenage angst, "I wish I'd never been born!", is actually a justified injustice.

Perhaps Harry Enfield was actually sympathising with the most privileged and pampered generation of little sods that human history has ever seen- myself included.

Surely not! the rational adult cries. Of course not. But next time the world comes crashing down over a messy room or a mouldy cereal bowl and the bedroom door is slammed in the face of the mystified parent, ponder the outcry of injustice.

All the cultural drivel about success from humble beginnings should be doused with a ton of salt. Yes it is within our freedom of choice to make something out of nothing, but one cliche of teenage anger should not be exchanged with another: "every end is a new beginning."

Ultimately we only get one start and we don't get to choose it (not including "second life").

So here I am challenged by a new starting point- my own blank canvas, and (if you forgive the continuation of a rather weak analogy) I will pick up the pen that has been designed for me and not the one I have chosen and will do my best to disappoint.