my500words : Day 17 : Sport

The my500words a day 31 day challenge today was to pick a fight. Not what I do the best in real life but it will be useful as a writer and I think that was the real purpose of the challenge.

My piece might not call for a fight, but it does address many of my misgivings about the world of spectator sports.

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Sport

Spectator sports these days seems to have lost their roots. Plagued by doping, sponsorship and professionalism I think it Spectator Sports have lost their way and would benefit from a radical rethink.

*

Sport and I got off to a bad start.

In school I dreaded the weekly cross country races across the frosty wind-swept countryside, and was of absolutely no use in any group sport whatsoever. Football, Rugby, Hockey or even cricket saw me more useful keeping the score and staying on the side-lines than actually participating.

I did occasionally play some tennis and squash and it was nice to move around searching for the ball, but nobody really wants to play against you if you stay the perpetual amateur.

Even when I tried skiing, by the third descent, my partners just left me to do my own thing, shouting vague greetings as they whizzed by.

In the end I just gave up and pursued other interests, letting the sports loving people do their own thing.

Live and let live I say.

I had a brush with sports of course when my children were growing up. Encouraged by their schools, my son played football and my daughter went to gymnastics.

I didn’t have a problem with that and even encouraged them to move around and enjoy it.

After a while of course, they were encouraged to train several times a week, and then there were competitions and they were made to feel bad if they didn’t keep up with the others or do exactly what their coaches wanted them to do.

So they stopped.

Unfortunately for me, sport is so ingrained in social life, that if you don’t participate either actively or passively, you become somewhat of a social outcast.

The newspapers hold less of an appeal when you systematically skip the sports pages and the sports bulletins become just an opportunity to grab a sandwich and a coffee.

One of the the main reasons I don’t like spot is because with sport there are always winners and losers and I have never thought that that’s a great dynamic.

From what I’ve said it’s obvious that I’m not the most competent person to give my opinion or offer any valuable advice to solve the problems in Spectator Sports today and it would probably have been a good idea if I had abstained from commenting.

I would like to say, however, as an outsider, that in my opinion, money has become the greatest enemy of sport today.

Global firms make a lot of money from participating and individual sportsmen have blurred the lines between amateur and professional sportsmanship.

It must be heart wrenching to lose to other participants whose main reason for winning were costly investments and body damaging techniques and designer substances.

It has become a continual battle between techniques to improve performance and the tests required to detect them. When it leaves the hands of a few individuals and becomes a government backed programme of deception even I, a non-sportive citizen, feel bound to express my indignation.

There is so much money in sport these days that I’m not confident that these problems are going to go away, but I’m sure and certain that in many cases the glory of winning will be squashed months, or even years later, often anonymously, with sanctions levied for substance abuse.

Unfortunately money will have been invested and multiplied and the investors will remain the real winners.

It’s time to take the money out of Spectator Sports and reinvest it in people instead, because Spectator Sports are gradually destroying sport itself. (603 words)

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