Friday, 1 June 2012

Reminding ourselves why we love sport....

(Originally published in the Bath Chronicle on May 17).

When the Olympic torch weaves its way through the streets of Bath on Tuesday, everyone who has the privilege to witness it will suddenly get a genuine sense of excitement and insight about what this sporting summer will bring with it.

As I’ve said before in this column, the Olympics is – and always has been – more than about sport. It is about the coming together of nations with a single purpose where the only guns on view are those in the rifle range or in the hands of the starter in the athletics. And it is where honest sporting achievement defines a nation not its military or financial might.

But, at the end of the day, once the closing ceremony comes to an end, it is the great sporting highlights that we will remember. And all the indications are that this year we will have so many treasured memories to reflect on . . .

If those of us who have been giddily awaiting this global bonanza weren’t already in a frenzied state, then quite possibly THE most incredible example of sporting craziness on Sunday afternoon will have reminded us all of the sheer drama that sport can provide.

As regular readers will know, I am a serious football fan but I’m not one who is blind to its faults. The ridiculous amounts of money in the game, the fact that at the top level it is so expensive it prices many of its true supporters out of the market and the often idiotic on and off the field activities of some of its ‘stars’ is enough to put anybody off. As such at times I’ve been almost cold to a sport that has warmed my heart practically all my life.

But then, on Sunday, I was reminded again of why I truly love football – and sport in general.

Those incredible last few minutes which saw the Premiership title slip in a matter of seconds from the familiar hands of Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson to his ‘noisy’ Italian neighbour at Manchester City, will remain long in the minds of everyone who was able to see or hear it. I’ve no particular affinity (or indeed dislike) for either City or United but even I was screaming like a teenager at a Beatles concert at the crazy finale to this crazy season and I can only wonder at just how busy the cardiac unit was in Manchester that evening. For, if we neutrals barely coped, how on earth did the faithful of either side?

But that is football – and indeed that is sport. It can provide disappointments, frustrations and anger at times but it can also produce magic moments that everyone shares and talks about long afterwards. And, in some ways, the Olympics takes it on to a different level altogether because in my experience the Olympics is an event which even those who wouldn’t watch a minute of sport in a typical year, will be riveted to.

They, like us, will happily watch people they’ve never heard of playing sports they’ve never before seen and will feel happily patriotic in the best and most pure way.

So, please try and get along on Tuesday to see the torch go by and remember this is just the taster for the incredible, all-embracing main event in the summer.

Cardiac units please note . . .

No comments: