It’s hard to believe it now, but once upon a time sport was exactly what it was meant to be, and wasn’t completely taken over by the money men. That dominance of financial factors in the current era means that the highest bidder tends to win the right to host the major tournaments, often with little apparent consideration for either the participants or the supporters.
At the present moment we have the Rugby World Cup being played in Japan, where the humidity is apparently so bad that Donal Lenihan had to change his shirt after conducting a pitch-side interview, and where the ball is so slippy (with sweat) that even the All Blacks are making several unforced handling errors.
Throw in the fact that there is also the chance of monsoons, typhoons, and other major weather events, and one can only wonder why the biggest rugby show of all is taking place in Japan at this time of year. As I write this, I’ve just heard that Ireland are in danger of going out of this year’s tournament, not because of their poor performances (which they certainly have been), but because there’s a typhoon coming that could mean that our last game (against Samoa) on Saturday might not go ahead. The powers that be have decreed that if a game can’t take place because of unforeseen circumstances – such as extreme weather – then the result will be declared a nil-all draw (no rescheduling). Such a result would almost certainly see Ireland on their way home and four years of preparation gone by the wayside.
The lack of foresight shown by the tournament organisers is extraordinary. In my view there has been no consideration whatsoever for either players or supporters. Two close friends of mine are due to fly out this Thursday for their dream holiday, taking in the Samoan match and the first two quarter-finals, which should include Ireland against either the All Blacks or The Springboks, but which we potentially might not now feature in at all.
I know how much these people sacrificed to enable them to travel to Japan. Now, thanks to a total lack of foresight by whoever runs World Rugby, their trip is in doubt, and even if they travel there is every possibility that the weather will have put paid to whatever chance Ireland had of progressing to the knock-out stages.
I really hope this typhoon heads off in a different direction, that Ireland get to play Samoa, that they get the bonus point to get us through to the quarter-finals, and that my friends get to see a glorious Irish victory over either the All Blacks or the ‘Boks. Dream on, Frank!
Meanwhile in Doha…
As bad as World Rugby is (see main article), there is always someone worse – and in this case the World Athletics Championships are in a league of their own. Conditions in Doha are so hot that the Women’s Marathon had to be run at midnight, in the hope that it might have cooled down a bit. As it happened, even at midnight, the temperature was over 30 degrees, 28 of the 68 starters didn’t finish at all, and several needed hospital treatment after trying to run a race in inhuman conditions.
These athletes had been preparing for these championships, but nobody (as with the rugby) was prepared for such extreme heat. I have to say that when I was a young boy I was totally in love with the Olympics, and the athletic competitions were the highlight, so much so that we would have our own Milford Olympics. In our minds, we were emulating the wonderful deeds of the top athletes. We may not have been as fast or as agile as our heroes, but we certainly thought we were, and to this day we still reminisce about our athletic feats in our own mini-Olympics.
Sadly, as with cycling, drug abuse and doping has completely transformed the sport, to the extent that I don’t watch it any more. No matter who achieves what in any event, the suspicion is always there that performance-enhancing drugs may have been involved. Needless to say there are always some athletes who are totally clean, but over the years we have seen so much abuse that it’s hard to see the wood from the trees.
However, despite all the suspicion, athletes should be able to perform in normal weather conditions, and there can be no doubt that the World Championships are in Doha because they put up enough money. The World Athletic people could not care less if the athletes had to run in a furnace.
Closer to home we have had the continual mismanagement of the FAI with the John Delaney saga, and here in Galway we have the unusual situation where Supermac’s want to find out where their huge sponsorship monies to the Galway County Board have gone to. It hasn’t always been like that, but nowadays money seems to be the dominant feature in every type of sport. It truly is the root of all evil.
Finally for this week, we are into the last couple of days’ before the big fundraising dance in Dowd’s (Glinsk) on Saturday night, a social event which is in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. Once again this year, the reception by everyone has been fantastic; your generosity never ceases to amaze me.
This year we may not have got to everyone, due to the poor weather, so we are appealing to you all to try and get to Dowd’s on Saturday night, dance the night away to the super sounds of The Lancers, and contribute to two very worthy charities.
We will have loads of prizes for the raffle, Tom Connolly has a couple of surprise items for a small auction, we have the wonderful door prize from the Abbey Hotel (for someone who is at the dance), and Tommy Dowd and his great staff are all set to look after you on the night. Eileen promises the best Guinness ever – with not a bubble in sight! So all we need is to see you all and, as Jack Charlton used to say, we’ll “give it a lash”.
Till next week, Bye for now!