If there is one thing that makes me mad it is the way so many people think about top level sport in our country.
A couple of events over the past 48 put this in sharp focus to me. Firstly Andy Murray losing in the final of the Australian tennis. I noticed on Twitter from an early point in the match as things started to go wrong for Murray just how quick people started to criticize, abuse and dismiss him.
While I am not that bothered about tennis and think something serious must be wrong that in a mass participation sport that generates many millions of pounds every year at Wimbledon we only manage to have one decent world class player every generation, to my mind Murray is the best British tennis player I have seen. It is hardly Murray’s fault to play in an era that contains two of the greatest players ever in Federer and Nadal, and a world number 3 Djokovic who would be top of the rankings in most other times. To be ranked the fourth best tennis player in the world (I know he is currently ranked 5th) is pretty impressive in my eyes. But whether it is a lack of a major title (especially Wimbledon), failure to be the world number one or else his supposedly surly manner (as if everyone has to be a media darling from an early age) our press and many others seem determined to do Murray down at every opportunity. And if he once said he supported Scotland or anyone who were playing England then so what!
An Australian colleague of mine sent me some clippings from an Aussie paper that took great delight in showing how our papers had turned on Murray as a failure (I wouldn’t mind winning $10 million in prize money – quite a failure) and wondered how much pressure we will put on our athletes in the run up to 2012.
So that’s tennis but what about the national game and the madness of the last day of the transfer window.
Has football finally gone mad? many people wondered as Torres went for £50 million with 70% of that reinvested in Andy Carroll (one England cap and a few Premier League appearances/goals behind him), who is now the most expensive English player ever. That question was in fact asked by Rio Ferdinand, that self-proclaimed man of the people, via twitter. I wonder if things are any more mad than when Manchester United paid Leeds £30 million for him eight whole years ago. Perhaps with inflation built in Torres is a snip.
Interestingly as one person said, had Manchester City bought those two players for that amount people would have been very indignant but maybe Russians are easier to stomach than Arabs and nothing Dalglish can do can be wrong.
Frankly I don’t care and continue to pity those who buy into this Premier League make believe world. It must be the most successful alternate reality show ever invented. No doubt tomorrow’s headlines will be screaming about Rooney scoring two goals for the first time since who knows when. Who cares!!!
Not that it is comparable – because frankly it is a different sport – but seeing Windsor & Eton going bust seems to have hardly registered. Whatever their demise can be blamed upon and no doubt paying out more money to players than they could afford would have been at the root, it is sad news nonetheless which no one at our level of the game wishes to see.
Forgive me this rant, and I haven’t even started on Steve Evans and Crawley but sport in this country, which can be so exciting at times, certainly has the power to depress and disillusion.