I'm actually reluctant to mention it here because it's not sport as I understand it. It seems to me that the bigger and more thuggish the contestants the more folk like to watch it even to the extent of paying shedloads of money to see it on a sports channel they are already paying for. Tune in later, folks, and watch the blood start to flow.
I can handle little fellows dodging and feinting and wearing headgear to prevent injury but the silly spectacle of professional boxers pretending to hate each other at the weigh-in, and the appalling things they say about each other, seem more like mediaeval entertainment than something that belongs in the 21st Century. The fuss over Tyson Fury consists of admiration for his sheer thuggery and lack of inhibition. Fans like their boxing heroes to show signs of madness; it appeals to their blood lust to contemplate their favourites beating opponents to death.
Here's a controversial theory: people enjoy watching heavyweight boxers punching each other because it appeals to their own violent fantasies. Who hasn't, at some time, wanted to lay out their boss? Jealous and insecure men who live in fear of being dumped by wives and girlfriends can enjoy the vicarious thrill of imagining that they are actually big and tough and fearless; they would actually like to beat their womenfolk up to punish them for the fact that they are so dependant on them. As Wilder slumped to the canvas with his burst eardrum they saw their significant others, just for a second, writhing in pain. That'll teach them for being so indispensable!
Boxing is so associated with aggressive masculinity that Sonny Liston's grave simply reads "A man." It could just as easily read "A gangster who was probably murdered" in which case Freddie Mills' and Oscar Bonavena's headstones could say exactly the same thing. Throw in the rampant homophobia for which Tyson Fury is notorious and which led to Benny Paret being beaten to death in the ring by Emile Griffith, and the racism involved in rich cigar-smoking white businessmen in bow ties taking their girlfriends to watch predominantly black men punch each other for money in the name of entertainment and you have a pretty unattractive package all round.
If youngsters are no longer allowed to head a football why are teenagers and adults allowed to beat each other up in the name of sport? I'm sure that, person for person, boxers are killed or disabled far more frequently than footballers. There's an argument, and I get it, that if people want to take up boxing and take the risk of being killed in the ring then that's their own business, but in that case why stop there? Why not professionalise fighting with knives and baseball bats? Show it on Sky TV and charge people £50 a time to watch. Hear the crowd's frustration and annoyance if the participants don't draw blood in the first 5 minutes.
The only argument in favour of boxing is that people should be free to decide for themselves whether they wish to do it, but the same argument could apply to taking crack and heroin. We can at least minimise the risk of injury and take the blood lust away by banning professional boxing and confining it to amateur status, and making protective headgear mandatory. It would still be a contest of skill but with much less risk of causing brain damage and we would no longer be staging legalised violence, which is what boxing amounts to and is what fans seem to demand. After all, if folk want to watch young men being killed in the ring there's now You Tube, where anyone can view historic fights all night long if they want to see lots of blood and a good measure of fatal brain damage being inflicted as well. I'm sure you can also watch footage of aeroplanes crashing and CCTV film of people being murdered if that's your thing. And it's free to view, too.
This thread was looking lonely by itself so it's moved into Ball-Shaped Ramblings even though a ball isn't necessary for speedway, Le Tour, athletics, ice dancing etc. And there should be plenty to talk about.
We've got the Six Nations Rugby tournament (even I watched a game the other week even though I am a Rugby League rather than Union fan) plus the Olympics coming this summer, COVID-19 willing. On the subject of the Six Nations I read today that there are no guarantees that the tournament right won't go the same way as Test cricket and Scotland's international football games and disappear into satellite-only territory. At this rate the BBC and ITV will be left with dominoes and crazy golf. Perhaps they'll bring back those motor bikes scrambling up muddy hills that some of us old timers used to enjoy, or the professional wrestling that we didn't.
Does anyone remember Arthur Lampkin and his motor bike? Arthur's son Kevin grew up to play for Bradford City and Mansfield at football, and he was a dirty little monkey although maybe not as filthy as his dad used to be at the end of a race. Ryan Giggs' dad Danny Wilson often featured on Saturday afternoon Rugby League games, where he appeared for Swinton and Salford. I don't think any of the wrestlers' offspring achieved sporting fame, although fashion designer Wayne Hemingway's father was known as Billy Two Rivers. He might have dressed in Red Injun costume and pretended to be a Native American, but I couldn't swear to it.*
*EDIT Billy Two Rivers really was a Canadian Mohawk chief so son Wayne can claim to be half First Nation in spite of growing up in Lancashire and being only 3 years old when his dad walked out on the family. Billy met the young and vivacious Maureen Hemingway when he visited Morecambe, where she lived, for a wrestling show. One thing led to another and along came Wayne in 1961.
145 years ago this very day, the first recorded indoor ice hockey match took place at the Victoria Rank, Montreal. The Montreal Gazette reported the occasion thus: HOCKEY – At the Rink last night a very large audience gathered to witness a novel contest on the ice. The game of hockey, though much in vogue on the ice in New England and other parts of the United States, is not much known here, and in consequence the game of last evening was looked forward to with great interest. Hockey is played usually with a ball, but last night, in order that no accident should happen, a flat block of wood was used, so that it should slide along the ice without rising, and thus going among the spectators to their discomfort. The game is like Lacrosse in one sense – the block having to go through flags placed about 8 feet apart in the same manner as the rubber ball – but in the main the old country game of shinty gives the best idea of hockey. The players last night were eighteen in number – nine on each side – and were as follows: – Messrs. Torrance (captain), Meagher, Potter, Goff, Barnston, Gardner, Griffin, Jarvis and Whiting. Creighton (captain), Campbell, Campbell, Esdaile, Joseph, Henshaw, Chapman, Powell and Clouston. The match was an interesting and well-contested affair, the efforts of the players exciting much merriment as they wheeled and dodged each other, and notwithstanding the brilliant play of Captain Torrance's team Captain Creighton's men carried the day, winning two games to the single of the Torrance nine. The game was concluded about half-past nine, and the spectators then adjourned well satisfied with the evening's entertainment
The scoring system appears to have been to treat the 3 periods of play as 3 individual games, regardless of the aggregate score. Because Creighton's team came out on top in two of these, they won the game 2-1.
Apparently, hooliganism was an issue, as other users of the rink objected to the hockey players bagging it for their game and started a rammy. The Gazette reporter preferred not to dwell on the stramash but the Daily British Whig recorded that Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed and the lady spectators fled in confusion.
Is chess a sport? Is it a game? Is there any difference?
Whatever the answer, 78 years ago today one of the greatest ever champions, Jose Raul Capablanca, died of a stroke aged 53. He once played 103 games simultaneously, drew one and won the other 102. Whoever it was who achieved that one draw must have been very proud indeed.
Capablanca kept his World Championship for six years by demanding a $10,000 deposit before he would accept a challenge. In 1927 the Argentine government, wishing to attract a big event to the country, raised the cash to allow Alexander Alekhine to take him on in Buenos Aires. An over-confident and under-prepared Capablanca lost to the wily challenger, who then demanded a similar $10,000 before he would agree to a re-match. The two never played against each other again and it's reasonable to infer that they were both frightened of losing to the other and damaging their respective reputations.
Now here is some dreadful news. Chess starlets Stanislaw Bogdanovitch (27) and Alexandra Vernigora (18) were found dead inside Bogdanovitch's flat in Moscow on Thursday. It appears the couple had both accidentally overdosed on nitrous oxide after filling balloons with the gas and then sniffing them in order to get high.
Today I watched the Scotland v France Rugby Union international and to my surprise
1. I enjoyed it and 2. Scotland won.
But I must admit I don't have a clue what's happening much of the time. Penalties seem to be awarded on the whim of the ref, although it's clear that tackles that injure someone's head are seriously taboo. Not that the punch that the French number 3 landed on his opponent's nose was a tackle; it was an act of sheer thuggery which, according to the commentators who should know a thing or two, immediately meant that France were likely to lose the match. The French coach looked like Lou Reed in a suit; if I were him I'd have told number 3 by now that he can take a walk on the wild side, that he prevented his team from having a perfect day and that he is unlikely ever to play for the national side again because he is a big dirty scunner.
I like the fact that the ref's conversation with his pal in the studio can be heard by the TV watchers. This meant that we knew no.3 was going to be sent off before he knew it himself. It can hardly have come as a surprise, though. Apparently, yesterday an England player grabbed the Welsh captain by the penis and got away with it because the ref never saw what happened. If the offender doesn't get a long suspension then rattans will be sniffed, and not just in Wales.
So it turns out that Rugby Union, at the top level, is no more palatable than football with a round ball. The French team coach has alleged that Mohamed Haouas only punched Jamie Ritchie on the nose because someone had, before that, poked him in the eye. It was a different player, not Ritchie, who is supposed to have done the dirty deed, so why this is being touted as an excuse for Haouas' thuggery is a mystery. In any case, the incident was replayed in slow motion several times before the ref got his red card out and at no time did anyone appear to go close to Haouas' eye. It all looks and sounds like pure bullshit.
The reason sport has rules is to ensure that a game is played fairly without anyone cheating in order to gain an advantage. If the rules say (as they do) that punching someone in the face is not allowed then anyone who does so has to be sent off. In any case, someone's own moral code normally tells him/her that trying to knock someone senseless is wrong. Haouas didn't even have a grudge against Ritchie so any pleading about the "heat of the game" doesn't wash. He is a thug and a cheat.
Meanwhile, Joe Marler is, according to reports, planning to plead mitigating circumstances regarding what amounts to a sexual assault on Alun Wyn Jones in the England v Wales match. Mitigating circumstances? Is he going to do an Alex Salmond and say that Jones consented to having his penis pinched while Marler looked away pretending to be innocent? Next to the Harlequins' fake blood incident this looked to me like the worst behaviour ever perpetrated on a rugby pitch and a life suspension from international matches would seem to be the very least of the appropriate available punishments.
Pictures from Wales Online
If Luis Suarez had done what Marler did there would be hell to pay, editorials in the broadsheets and wringing of hands in the commentary box. I must have attended well over 500 football matches and I've never seen anyone do anything like this.
Just for the record, here are a few more examples of Marler's approach to the game:
2016 Fined £20,000 and banned for 2 games for calling a Welsh player "Gypsy Boy" 2016 Another 2 match ban for kicking an opponent in the head 2017 3 match suspension for use of the elbow 2018 Banned for 6 weeks for a foul shoulder to head tackle
The above list doesn't include him calling Australia's coach a wanker or telling the press he had considered deliberately getting sent off so he could miss England's training sessions.
A criminal trial and a place on the sex offenders' register might make Joe Marler, and whoever picks the England team, a wee bit more cautious in the future. EDIT Also in the World of RU, it's reported that Exeter Chiefs refused to let former Flybe employees who had free tickets for their weekend game into the ground. That was a bit unkind, wasn't it? For environmental reasons I don't agree with people using aeroplanes but I feel sorry for the folk who lost their jobs. Exeter's action can't have been a nice experience for people who had just had their livelihood taken away and were hoping to see a good game to take their minds off it all.
Other sports are no longer available. Not only has Euro 2020 gone for a Burton but so have the Grand National, the Six Nations, Rugby League, boxing and pretty much everything else which involves people getting into close contact with each other or requires the attendance of emergency services. We should expect the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race to be scrapped as well, because the virus is a rebel and doesn't have any time for class distinction. If your name is on its list it'll get you whether you went to a private school or have just signed on for Universal Credit.
Ironically, Stranraer FC's home ground on match day would probably be one of the safest places in which to spend a Saturday afternoon because there's usually plenty of space in the stands, and especially on the sparsely-populated Town End, for everyone to leave a good 2 metre space away from anyone else.
People will be disappointed by the loss of fixtures they were happily anticipating, but then again it's also going to be a pity for anyone who becomes severely ill or dies as a result of COVID-19 so all the cancellations and postponements are entirely justified and are the correct and pragmatic course of action. Football is not more important than life and death, a fumbled try-scoring opportunity is not a national disaster, and so on and so forth. A sense of perspective is required, and by that I don't mean the apocalyptic over-the-top reporting of the usually calm and measured Mark Easton this evening, which was like a Chris Morris spoof from the 1990s. There's no need to start collecting body bags; it's all going to be a trial and a bore, and for some people personal tragedy is indeed on the way, but the best method of getting through the next few weeks and months is to accept that there will be restrictions on our freedom and to respond sensibly. That means we don't get to meet up for sporting fixtures for the duration, but won't it be grand when the worst is over and the stadiums open their doors again? I might get my dream of watching summer football at Stair Park after all, by default.
Yes it’s all rather weird isn’t. No sport with a round or elliptical ball ? Is that the word. Teles so quiet I didn’t realise how much sport I watched and enjoyed. It’s comforting and we’ve lost it. I’m working from home. Suddenly. Knew it would come. But I had a hospital appt Monday arranged working from home Tuesday back Wednesday But not. It’s a strange old world. I miss our normal sporting discussions to listen to and watch. When or if it’s back, well I look forward to that time Discussions in the kitchen at work. Who did well. Who bombed. Who’s playing who next. It’s something we all talk about beings us together. My dad whose 82 Saturday don’t even know if I can see him then. He’s just starting to realise what’s happening how big this virus is. But it’s the sport. He keeps saying and there’s no football ! Well I’ll finish now Yes what can we watch instead? Good luck everyone. Sorry feeling a bit glum tonight
Rugby fans probably know that today marks the 149th anniversary of the first ever international match. The competing sides, naturally, were Scotland and England and the game took place in front of a crowd of 4000 at Raeburn Place, the home ground of Edinburgh Academicals.
Rugby League had not been invented yet, but it would be wrong to assume that there was only one form of rugby. For starters, each side in the Raeburn Place match fielded 20 players, and the Scottish and English versions of the rules were different enough for the referee, HH Almond, to threaten to walk off the field and abandon the game if the Englishmen didn't stop complaining about not being allowed to hack the ball away from their opponents' hands.
England's team was, basically, the Blackheath side. The English RU had ignored the challenge from the Scots to take part in a match but Blackheath were a law unto themselves in those days and happily picked up the gauntlet, although the players were probably not best pleased that they had to pay their own train fare to Edinburgh and sleep on bare boards in a third class carriage. Their team wore the all white with a red rose which is still the England national side's strip to this very day, whilst Scotland's XX turned out in brown shirts decorated with a thistle.
The game turned out to be a muddle. Many spectators, who had paid a shilling each to see the game, actually saw little or nothing of the action because of the size of the crowd, and referee Almond's Scottish interpretation of the rules bewildered and annoyed England's players. The reason a try is called a try is that in those early days all that grounding the ball over the line won for a team was a chance to try and kick a goal. Tries which were not converted didn't count, and there were no penalty goals because the participants were gentlemen and so, by definition, would never cheat. Scotland managed two tries and England one, but only one of the three was converted which is why Scotland won the match 1-0. Almond admitted that the try which led to the goal should probably have been disallowed; he hadn't seen for himself whether or not there had been a knock-on in the build up but he worked on the basis that the side making the most noise was probably in the wrong. Since England complained so loudly about the decision, he decided that that, according to his own set of rules, the try was legitimate.
On Christmas Day 1872 England and Scotland met again, in Calcutta. The local worthies were so pleased and grateful that they created a trophy made from melted down silver rupees and called it the Calcutta Cup. This is the very trophy for which Scotland and England have competed since 1879.