Sport; Aside from the splendour on show, what’s real?

“I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating.”


When I was a young chap in short trousers I held my elders in high esteem, believed implicitly what they told me about life, and without doubt trusted the famous to tell the truth.

Sadly with age, knowledge has chipped away at the naive childlike outlook on life. Humans are fallible beasts and, as we ripen, we become ever so aware of our shortcomings – lies and cynicism join the jolly outlook.

Fear not reader I am not clutching a pistol and washing down my breakfast with cyanide! All the flowers are blooming and rosy in my garden.

It just struck me while I was watching the generous helping of sport this weekend that either everything is a lie or that there have been such mistruths told previously that a state of paranoia is swallowing the international psyche.

I watched a nervous Mo Farah’s eyes anxiously look for a droplet of faith, in the exact spot of his wonderful triumphs. Gone was his proud child like joy, likewise the unblemished appreciation from the crowd – the love affair is over!

Having chatted to some sports journalists it seems that some of them fear that he might, like many modern legends, have taken the oft-trod route and taken the apple from the serpent.

If, as the evidence currently suggests, Mo is innocent, it says a lot more about the sad British public and press that seem to have a lust for raising up their stars to the Pantheon of success then revel in their seedy plight.

Two days after Mo in London it was Christopher Froome’s turn. To finish the gruelling three week tour is admirable, to win it twice is just chapeau. Interestingly us Brits have been more defensive of him. Mainly because he was never lionised here and possibly because is the jealous French going after him! We can throw bombs at our stars but if the Frogs spit vitriol, it is as if they have slapped HRH herself. Cycling is throwing darts at its own balloon and won’t escape it’s dark dangerous past until it embraces the golden future set up by Sir Brailsford. 
Athletics and cycling are the two sports that really set the pulse of the viewer going with regards to elite performance. This is because they require superhuman efforts of endurance and fitness against the clock. They are also sports that no one trusts. It has felt like being told over and over again that Father Christmas isn’t real, despite meeting him and watching him deliver your presents expertly.

Cynicism has found its way into how we view other sportsmen; if they aren’t cheating, or have no need to cheat, in their sport we will find them cheating in their personal lives. Shane Warne is the greatest ever spin bowler to lace his boots and he played honestly and fairly.

Yet dear old Shane’s personal life is full of tawdry tales of debauchery . The same applies to John Terry, the difference being Warne always said he’s a lad off the pitch and genius on it. Terry advertised, like Tiger Woods, himself to be a paragon of virtue when he had already picked up a first class ticket to hell.

In our non-elite lives we all cheat and lie professionally and privately. Indeed the older we get the easier deception becomes. Fairness in sport is idealised by those wonderful pillars of society journalists, of whom I know many and believe me that they have the most dysfunctional lives of the lot!

What is sad is that I plot my annual turn by the events on show, to brighten up the drudgery of life! Perversely I wish I had the naivety to believe that what I see is “real” and then the old Corinthian in me looks at it feeling that I just want to watch a great contest – if you watch Lance Armstrong on a base sporting level, without the knowledge of his EPO abuse, it is impossible not to feel inspired.

So let’s hope that are new heroes being made from pure gold. Though we shouldn’t mock our previous heroes, because humans all begin as innocent children wanting to be remembered but soon we realise that we are mortally made from the same stone.


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