Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sport and money

posted by Brit in Bryan's absence

So the Stanford debacle comes to a fitting end - a rotten, error-strewn match and a humiliating thrashing for England. With the shadow hanging over them, cricketers are nervous wrecks at the best of times, so it's no wonder they crumbled when a rare and incongruous chance of lifetime financial security was cruelly dangled in front of them.

I'm patriotic enough, but never have I cared less about an England defeat. This, I'm sure, reflects the general mood of the nation's cricket fans. We support sportsmen when we think they're doing it for the love of the game or because they are in some way representing 'us'. This is why the Ryder Cup is the best thing about golf, and the Olympics are the international pinnacle of sport. Whether the players get rich in the process is of no real consequence. I don't begrudge sportsmen their dough, note - this isn't the usual tired complaint about overpaid prima donnas - it simply isn't a factor.

Stanford bought the English cricket team for a week and thought he could also buy a shortcut through the myriad complexities of nationalism, patriotism, history, culture and all the other important things about sport, good and bad, straight to glory. In doing so he has shown that he understands nothing about sport - if he did, he'd have known that by buying it he'd turn it into something else. I'm not sure what the Stanford game was, but it wasn't sport.


  1. Quite agree, Brit - but classing cricket as 'sport' is surely selling it short. It it was merely a sport - like football or athletics or F1 - the Stanford business wouldn't have been such a ghastly shaming spectacle. Cricket is so much more...

  2. I guess so Nige. It's important to distinguish between 'games' (such as cricket and chess and football) which involve strategy and a direct opponent, and 'sports' (such as javelin or long jump) which are just a matter of physical prowess.

    But I think what I'm on about here is Sport with a capital S - a more elusive concept.

    On the other hand, this might be my quaint, outmoded English view. Gianluca Vialli wrote a book comparing English and Italian footballers, the central thesis of which was that the English see playing football as a game for which they happen to get paid, and the Italians see it as a career which happens to be football.

  3. I don't know what this is all about, but I see that England again failed to win the World Series for the 105th straight year.