New year sports resolutions

Mark Perryman from Handbook of London 2012 Olympic gamesToo much Christmas pud, cake and ale over the seasonal break? Feet up in front of the TV for an indecent chunk of the duration? Sport defined as watching it rather than doing it? The first few weeks of January are often the period to make a personal pledge to get active, lose those bulges and finally dust off those long-forgotten running shoes, a bike, pair of swimming trunks or whatever and put them to the use they were intended for. A month later ending up back at square one, well that’s certainly the case for most of modern, inactive, Britain. Why has sport evolved into a multibillion global industry yet activity plummets, obesity rockets? This New Year resolution reading list might help us to understand why, and vitally do something about it too.

One Understand London 2012 as a magnificent spectacle. With the same applying to all other mega-event sports, in 2014 we will have the Winter Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Volume Two of the Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides the most authoritative account available of the mediated impact of those Games while casting an admirably critical eye over any likelihood that they will result in their number one claim, to significantly boost participation in sport. To enjoy the potential sport has for human liberation we need to revive and reinvent such critical awareness of what it has become.

Two Appreciate the reasons for sport’s global appeal. Globalisation is anything but ‘natural’, it is shaped by economic and technological forces and factors. But by culture and politics too. Dominic Malcolm’s Globalizing Cricket places the spread of this most imperial of sports firmly within the context of Englishness and empire to produce an absolutely fascinating read.

The Boys of SummerThree Explore the pre-history of current sportswriting. The ‘new’ sportswriting was effectively invented a little over twenty years ago by Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch sparking a revolution in publishing that lasts to today. But there’s a heritage too of good writing that is worth discovering to inform and inspire. The Sports Classics series from Aurum Press includes The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, a book about Baseball widely regarded as the finest sports book ever written. Outside the comfort zone of the sports we are perhaps more used to reading about we can best appreciate the special emotional appeal that sport at its best possesses.

Four Provide some context to the massive appeal of the Premiership. A money-dominated top division where finishing fourth is everything, ticket prices some 10 times higher than in the vastly superior Bundesliga and clubs have become a status symbol plaything for the Global idle rich. From behind closed doors the scrupulously anonymous Tales from the Secret Footballer provides an unrivalled insight into the reality of what used to be a sport. Does this mean football can’t ever be special? Of course not, there are teams, players, managers who help to create goals, matches, trophy-wining campaigns that have everything a fan could wish for. And one of those who can achieve all of this is the self-appointed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, whose career has been incisively analysed by Ciaran Kelly in his up-to-date account, The Rise of the Translator.

Five Living in the past is not such a bad thing. At Philosophy Football our maxim is Against Modern Football. And it seems we are not alone. The Lost World Of Football is a hugely evocative pictorial memorial to the innocence of a game before it became a business. Each page filled with the iconic paraphernalia of a homespun fandom that shaped a generation’s adolescence but allowed us the space to make our own dreams. And take a look too at the latest collection from football’s finest photographer , Stuart Roy Clarke. Stuart describes his subject as ‘the homes of football’ and in Where The Heart Is he captures beautifully and with considerable visual imagination the people who live their lives in those ‘homes’. Of course nostalgia for a past has a habit of glossing over the contradictions that constructed all our fond memories of yesteryear. A fun, but meaningful way or rediscovering their meanings is provided by Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse’s splendid Who Invented the Stepover?. A highly readable alternative history of a beautiful game turned ugly.

Six Celebrating sport as popular internationalism. The World Cup, no other single event comes close to representing in the sharpest manner possible sport’s twin impulses. The most vicious forms of a petty-minded version of nationalism vs a shared global language of joy and despair. James Moor’s Grobar may be the uproarious story of watching Belgrade’s Partizan but strip away the specifics of Serbian football and it could be a tale of watching any club, anywhere. Thats not to say the local doesn’t matter, James Moor catches the conditions that shape Serbian football very well, but those commonalities matter too, its what makes sport such a powerful link between people of different cultures and countries. The Football Tourist by Stuart Fuller reveals in glorious detail the wonderful experience that enjoying football’s international appeal can provide. Stuart does this by hunting down a game to watch and a trip to make, around Europe. Made easy and cheapish thanks to the internet and bargain-basement air travel, it is an experience with a growing appeal for many fans. Germany’s Bundesliga is one of the most popular destinations for a footballing weekend to remember, and well-planned no more expensive, including flights and hotels, than an over-priced and over-hyped Premiership game either. Tempted? Uli Hesse’s Tor! is the essential guide to the history of the current powerhouse of European football, Germany. Now fully updated, the past and present of German football is told in fascinating detail. Or if you prefer a weekend visit to Barcelona with a game at the Nou Camp thrown in for good measure, then have a read of Messi by Guillem Balague. Most player biographies are embarrassingly unreadable, this one is most certainly not. The story of what many regard as the world’s best, though my vote for that title goes to Cristiano Ronaldo, helps us to understand the making of a footballing great, and in the hands of such a gifted writer as Guillem Balague it is a tale that teaches much about Argentina, Spanish football and the global game too.

Seven Wearing T-shirts is not enough. The inestimable Kick it Out Campaign have done more than most to highlight the enduring presence of racism in a football culture supposedly based on the philosophy ‘sport for all’. A new collection edited by David Hassan Ethnicity and Race in Association Football provides an understanding of the complexities of discrimination, inequality and exclusion that frame racism in football way beyond the monkey chants and racist abuse we are perhaps more used to denouncing. With examples from across European, African and North American football it is a collection that also provides a rare global perspective on the subject. But however deep our understanding of, and opposition to, racism there is also a pressing need for a positive agenda towards social change through sport. Fan Culture in European Football and the Influence of Left Wing Ideology is a quite amazing book for those committed to such a goal (sic) . Editors David and Peter Kennedy have brought together stories from Bosnia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Scotland to reveal a rare trend in English football, of fan cultures shaped by Left ideals and organisation, and those ideals and organisation in turn shaped by this process as well. Read this extraordinary collection for a glimpse of the glorious possibilities.

Inside Team SkyEight The Tour de France 2014 is well worth getting excited about. A global sporting event, that is free to watch. Which starts in Leeds via Harrogate, York and Sheffield. The roads the stars of this sport ride the likes of you and me can ride in their tracks too. Oh, and the chances of a Brit winning it are a darn sight better than England lifting the World Cup next year The Tour de France is of course a business like any other major sporting event but on the road, downhill or up mountains it is far closer to the people than most. Local yet global, sponsored but along a route so long never entirely in the grip of the sponsors. Watched on free-to-air terrestrial TV . Absolutely French in origin, culture and final destination, but truly European in the manner it is enjoyed. Last year’s Team Sky performance on the Tour is captured with fantastic photography and a richly informative stage-by-stage diary in The Pain and the Glory . 2013 was the year of course of Team Sky ‘s second successive triumph in the Yellow Jersey. Author David Walsh made his reputation as a sportswriter painstakingly building the case to expose Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat. His new writing venture we must hope will never need an update to add those kinds of revelations to the text. Instead his Inside Team Sky uncovers the regime that has helped create the most successful British sport of modern times, cycling. From the Olympic Track to first the World Road Championships and then finally, and most recently the British Tour De France wins. It is the latter that David Walsh provides an insight into with a degree of honesty few other writers can come close to matching. A brilliant read.

Nine Cycling deserves its own version of long-form writing and has found it. My choice for The Sports Book of the New Year is edited by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie, The Cycling Anthology. In recent years sportswriting journals consisting of long-form journalism have emerged, including on football The Blizzard and on cricket Yellow Jersey Press affording it the backing to make the impact such good sportswriting deserves to make and my tip for the read of 2014.

Ten Sport at its sublime best is a symbol of human liberation. We do it, because we can. So where are my bike lights? its dark and cold but not too wet and I have East Sussex’s version of a mountain, Ditchling Beacon to ride up. Enjoy the sporting year.

Note No links in this review are to Amazon. If you can avoid making a purchase from the tax-dodgers, please do so.

Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled ‘sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction’ aka Philosophy Football

22 comments on “New year sports resolutions

  1. Your constant gripes against humanity’s greatest gift to the universe, i.e. Football and your constant rose tinted view of peddling a bike is getting rather annoying.

    And Messi is the greatest sportsman of all time, let alone the greatest footballer.

  2. Look I love the beautiful game, but there is no point pretending that commerce and an over-excitable media have combined to make it ugly on more than occasions.

    As for Mess i Would have agreed until Ronaldo’s remarkable performance in both legs of Portugal’s World Cup qualifiers against Sweden. He’s the number one now for me, bar none.

    And cycling? Name any other world class sporting event that is free to watch, starts in Yorkshire and a Brit has a half-decent chance of winning.

    Mark P

  3. Karl Stewart on said:

    Mark P: As for Mess i Would have agreed until Ronaldo’s remarkable performance in both legs of Portugal’s World Cup qualifiers against Sweden. He’s the number one now for me, bar none.

    I’d say Luis Suarez is the world’s best at the the moment – He’s my tip for English player of the year, and the World Cup Golden Boot.
    (And Uruguay have a decent chance of winning the tournament too).

  4. jim mclean on said:

    I am sure we are all looking forward to the battle of the giants fighting for soccer’s supreme prize, Sunday, 6th April, Rangers play Raith for the Ramsdens Cup. Something happening in June as well I think?

  5. Calvin on said:

    To effectively represent a new and fresh way to write about cycling demands a challenge to the masculine hegemony sport too easily affords as somehow natural. On the track Britain’s women cyclists are every bit as successful as the men, and given the opportunity on the road too.

    Well, public funded famous women track cyclists are the elite end of a specialist branch of cycling which has no mass participation and is never going to because of a lack of tracks and costs of building them. When my cycle club recently tried to book a two hour beginners track session, we joined a four month waiting list.

    At grass roots level, amateur road racing is far more accessible, you just join a club, train hard for a couple of years, get yourself a race licence and rock up at your local crit. Thing is, knuckle to knuckle road racing is very aggressive and if you’re not prepared to hit the deck you shouldn’t be doing it. Racing is completely unlike doing a sportive (mass participation bike ride, e.g. London to Brighton). It’s not about ‘doing a long distance’ or ‘setting a personal challenge’. It’s a hard, tough sport as I learned during my first race when I had to override my instincts and leave my teammate lying on the road after a crash with no idea how badly hurt he was.

    If you race then at some point you will crash and get hurt. To give you an idea of what that means, take all your clothes off, get into a car and then when you reach 30 – 40 mph, open the door and throw yourself onto the tarmac. I’m sure this unenticing prospect has something (but not everything) to do with the small number of women in the amateur leagues.

    There is huge scope for increasing the quality of women’s road racing and it’s visibility at the elite level. They just need proper sponsorship and training (the few that have it are head and shoulders above their peers). But road racing as a mass participation sport for women? I would love see it, but I can’t even persuade one single woman in my club to take it up because they’re just not prepared to accept the risks. They’ll do time trials and sportives, but not road racing.

  6. Ronaldo was beyond brilliant against Sweden, no doubt about it. But 2 things need to be factored in, 1, the quality of the opposition and 2, why did Portugal need the playoffs in the first place.

    I guess these things are subjective but Messi has consistently out performed everyone else on the planet year in and year out. This year he is injured and yes Ronaldo has come to the fore. But judged over their careers so far, Messi is the best by a mile. Comparing Ronaldo to Messi is a bit like comparing Suarez to both Messi and Ronaldo, i.e. there really is no comparison!

    I am a Yorkshire man, apparently the so called Tour de France (with a twist of Yorkshire!) is being welcomed by the local Hoteliers. Looks like they will fill their boots! I guess that is why the commercial departments were prostituting themselves to have this tainted event in their backyard.

    Incidentally I think they charge you for the Velodrome cycling, I suspect it may be cheap as very few are that interested, but if, god forbid, this did become wildly popular, they would charge through the nose.

    The British women have had success but based on a heady combination of lack of competition, eugenic type grooming, over resourced medal hunting and privilege. Like the men, I would rather they had won nothing.

  7. Calvin on said:

    FIFA is corrupt to the core and its leaders are like untouchable mafia dons. The old guard in the UCI were recently overthrown and cycling is now making an effort to deal with its past and clean up its image.

  8. Calvin –

    Your comment may or may not be true or may have hit on the exact problem or missed it by a mile but it can’t change the fact that football is fantastic and cycling isn’t.

  9. Calvin on said:

    Marko: the fact

    Your opinion is not elevated to the status of a fact by virtue of constant repetition. I guess you must be a Spurs supporter.

  10. Marko clearly has a ‘down’ on cycling.

    I lean a considerable amount in the other direction. That doesn’t mean, as Marko often does in terms of cyclng, I reject any appeal of football. It has its moments, and still has by far and away the biggest live following for any spectator sport, and likewise TV audience figures. However both are in decline while the numbers playing 11-a-side football are in headlong decline.

    What is wrong in my view is hegemony of football over our sports culture. It does football no favoyrs as its self-importance tendency is given a significant boost at the expense of other sports.

    Calvin writes brilliantly on the realities of competitive cycling. I’m just reading Matt Seaton’s ‘The Escape Artist’ having just finished Tim Hilton’s ‘Another Kilometre to Go’, both cycling books writen by authors who were for a period members of the CP. There’s a decent tradition of Comminists in cycling, remember the CP’s ‘Roads to Freedom’ and ‘Big Red Bike Ride’ events? I seem to remember there was an SWP cycling club too, Red Spoke?

    Calvin criticises my point about cycling appealling to both sexes. I meant the non-competitive, the receational, mainly with the success of Brotih women on the track and the road the sport’s ‘face’ rather than expecting a big leap in women’s participation in competition. Incidentall the same pount more or less would apply to men. The big boost in cycling participation will be recreational/non-competitive.

    Thanks for the comments and the debate!

    Mark P

  11. Calvin on said:

    Mark P,

    Ah ha… gotcha. Yes there is huge scope for increasing women’s (and men’s) participation in non-competitive and semi-competitive (e.g. sportives) cycling. Must get round to buying Matt Seaton’s book – he’s a half decent cyclist if I remember correctly, whereas I’m just an ageing novice.

  12. Calvin on said:

    Mark P,

    If you like cycling stories, here’s something I knocked together for my club mag…

    The Race of Truth
    Calvin Versus Calvin: The Gazette editor invites you to join him on a psychological ride into the fires of hell.

    Periodically the marshal checks his stopwatch. Every 60 seconds a human bullet is fired from the front, and the shrinking queue of carbon, rubber and flesh shuffles forward in unison until it’s my turn to be the bullet.

    The marshal steadies my bike in his hands.

    30 seconds.

    Adrenaline surges through my veins.

    10 seconds.

    I taste it on my tongue.

    5 seconds.

    Fight or flight?

    4. 3. 2. 1.

    It’s both.

    Silence.

    The marshal lets go.

    GO!

    I floor the right pedal. Standing out of the saddle, I floor the left. Then the right. Left, right, left, right, left. But I’m not marching, I’m dancing. I’ve got rhythm.

    The village common flashes past in a streak of green, but I have eyes only for the tarmac below and the road ahead. I slide back into the saddle, head down, arms extending out towards the aerobars, focussing on my breathing.

    Leaning left I ease the bike into the descent. My old friend gravity offers me a helping hand, but I must increase the pace. Click, click, click. My gears respond smoothly and the pain slots neatly into smaller and smaller rings. I’m spinning. I’m flying. I am alive.

    I move my hands onto the drops and brake late, scrubbing off speed.

    Shaaarp left.

    The road flattens out. Easy time is over. Push, push, push. I get into a rhythm and then ease off a little. This is just a skirmish; bigger battles lie ahead, and above.

    + + +

    They call it the race of truth. No tactics, no teammates, no drafting, and nowhere to hide. Just you, on your own, against the clock. That’s what they say, but I only partly agree. A time trial takes place inside your head as much as it does on the road. It’s not just you against the clock, it’s you against yourself. This favours flawed characters who have something to prove, and disadvantages the settled and contented. As the race progresses and your suffering intensifies, the inner voice that tells you to slow down becomes ever more persuasive. The price of resistance is to inflict even greater pain upon yourself, until eventually in your torment you are reduced to screaming out expletives to the birds on an empty country lane. Or waving the white flag. Surrender is always an option.

    + + +

    Another left turn.

    Now I’m heading upwards and gravity is my enemy. Rivulets of salty sweat begin to run down my forehead and splash into my eyes, blinding my vision. Saliva dribbles out of my open mouth and rolls down my chin and onto my jersey. Flames lick my lungs. I want to wipe my face and press a bottle to my lips, but that would break my rhythm and cost me seconds.

    I glance up and see my minute man in trouble; his pedal stroke ragged, his shoulders swaying this way and that. His agony is fuel for my legs, and like a cat I close in on my prey and then pass him in silence. Cycling is a cruel sport.

    The hill morphs into an almost endless false flat and I struggle to increase cadence after having burnt a match on the climb. Demoralisation washes through my mind and spills into my legs. I fantasise about a puncture or a broken chain; for anything that can release me, with honour, from this suffering. My speed begins to drop.

    Harden the fuck up, idiot!

    I push on hard through flatter roads until I come to the final turn: a sharp right. Left leg down, right knee out, accelerate out of the turn; it all comes together and I round the bend in an elegant curve. I tuck in on the sweeping descent; arms outstretched, head down, arse high, building up speed. As I shoot past the station on my left, the road flattens out and then rears up in front of me like a wall. Like a goddamn wall. And I’m already deep into the red.

    Momentum carries me through the first part of the climb. Halfway to the summit the road curves left, and up above I see the marshal with his stopwatch and clipboard. I visualise myself as a cold hard bullet cutting through crimson pain towards the chequered flag. It is unstoppable. I am unstoppable.

    I stand out of the saddle and will my body to respond. Lactate roars through my legs. I am drowning in acid. It tears into my quads, scalds my veins and burns holes in my mind. I vow never to do another time trial.

    30 metres to the finish line.

    My legs turn to jelly.

    10 metres.

    My blood runs cold.

    5 metres.

    I start to black out.

    4. 3. 2. 1.

    The pain stops and I keel over onto the grass verge, gasping for life like a stricken animal. I don’t yet know my time and, curiously, I don’t much care. On this particular day I know I achieved something more important than beating the clock. I won the mental battle. And that, for me, is what the race of truth is ultimately about.

  13. Football is not in decline, on the contrary the underlying trend is clearly upward.

    Actually comparing football with any other sport is almost like comparing the USA with a small island in the pacific. It becomes an exercise in lies, damn lies and statistics. One small increase in some minor sport can translate into massive percentages etc etc.

    Cycling is an elitist sport. It also doesn’t have the artistry, imagination, creativity and skill of football. This is why I can say it is fantastic and cycling isn’t. Cycling is something people do to keep their basic fitness levels up or is a bit of a social event for the middle classes. Nothing wrong with it just comparing it favourably with football is a joke.

    Being by far the most popular sport, football attracts much investment and with it much corruption. But that doesn’t make it more corrupt than other sports. In fact those sports desperate for a fraction of the popularity football has often go to pathetic attempts to grab some of the limelight. Of course cycling has an entire history of corruption. And in a sport where skill counts for little and physical capabilities count for much, the influence of drugs is all the greater.

    It also explains why in sports such as cycling or rowing, the eugenic groomers can go around schools with their tape measures and pick out the next champion. Football is much less prone to this, as are other high skill sports.

    You are in affect knocking football for it’s success (jealously, snobbery?). You are not really assessing it in the context of a critical approach to capitalism, if you were doing this you wouldn’t bring cycling into the picture as a comparison.

  14. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Calvin:
    Mark P,

    If you like cycling stories, here’s something I knocked together for my club mag…

    The Race of Truth
    Calvin Versus Calvin: The Gazette editor invites you to join him on a psychological ride into the fires of hell.

    Periodically the marshal checks his stopwatch. Every 60 seconds a human bullet is fired from the front, and the shrinking queue of carbon, rubber and flesh shuffles forward in unison until it’s my turn to be the bullet.

    The marshal steadies my bike in his hands.

    30 seconds.

    Adrenaline surges through my veins.

    10 seconds.

    I taste it on my tongue.

    5 seconds.

    Fight or flight?

    4. 3. 2. 1.

    It’s both.

    Silence.

    The marshal lets go.

    GO!

    I floor the right pedal. Standing out of the saddle, I floor the left. Then the right. Left, right, left, right, left. But I’m not marching, I’m dancing. I’ve got rhythm.

    The village common flashes past in a streak of green, but I have eyes only for the tarmac below and the road ahead. I slide back into the saddle, head down, arms extending out towards the aerobars, focussing on my breathing.

    Leaning left I ease the bike into the descent. My old friend gravity offers me a helping hand, but I must increase the pace. Click, click, click. My gears respond smoothly and the pain slots neatly into smaller and smaller rings. I’m spinning. I’m flying. I am alive.

    I move my hands onto the drops and brake late, scrubbing off speed.

    Shaaarp left.

    The road flattens out. Easy time is over. Push, push, push. I get into a rhythm and then ease off a little. This is just a skirmish; bigger battles lie ahead, and above.

    +++

    They call it the race of truth. No tactics, no teammates, no drafting, and nowhere to hide. Just you, on your own, against the clock. That’s what they say, but I only partly agree. A time trial takes place inside your head as much as it does on the road. It’s not just you against the clock, it’s you against yourself. This favours flawed characters who have something to prove, and disadvantages the settled and contented. As the race progresses and your suffering intensifies, the inner voice that tells you to slow down becomes ever more persuasive. The price of resistance is to inflict even greater pain upon yourself, until eventually in your torment you are reduced to screaming out expletives to the birds on an empty country lane. Or waving the white flag. Surrender is always an option.

    +++

    Another left turn.

    Now I’m heading upwards and gravity is my enemy. Rivulets of salty sweat begin to run down my forehead and splash into my eyes, blinding my vision. Saliva dribbles out of my open mouth and rolls down my chin and onto my jersey. Flames lick my lungs. I want to wipe my face and press a bottle to my lips, but that would break my rhythm and cost me seconds.

    I glance up and see my minute man in trouble; his pedal stroke ragged, his shoulders swaying this way and that. His agony is fuel for my legs, and like a cat I close in on my prey and then pass him in silence. Cycling is a cruel sport.

    The hill morphs into an almost endless false flat and I struggle to increase cadence after having burnt a match on the climb. Demoralisation washes through my mind and spills into my legs. I fantasise about a puncture or a broken chain; for anything that can release me, with honour, from this suffering. My speed begins to drop.

    Harden the fuck up, idiot!

    I push on hard through flatter roads until I come to the final turn: a sharp right. Left leg down, right knee out, accelerate out of the turn; it all comes together and I round the bend in an elegant curve. I tuck in on the sweeping descent; arms outstretched, head down, arse high, building up speed. As I shoot past the station on my left, the road flattens out and then rears up in front of me like a wall. Like a goddamn wall. And I’m already deep into the red.

    Momentum carries me through the first part of the climb. Halfway to the summit the road curves left, and up above I see the marshal with his stopwatch and clipboard. I visualise myself as a cold hard bullet cutting through crimson pain towards the chequered flag. It is unstoppable. I am unstoppable.

    I stand out of the saddle and will my body to respond. Lactate roars through my legs. I am drowning in acid. It tears into my quads, scalds my veins and burns holes in my mind. I vow never to do another time trial.

    30 metres to the finish line.

    My legs turn to jelly.

    10 metres.

    My blood runs cold.

    5 metres.

    I start to black out.

    4. 3. 2. 1.

    The pain stops and I keel over onto the grass verge, gasping for life like a stricken animal. I don’t yet know my time and, curiously, I don’t much care. On this particular day I know I achieved something more important than beating the clock. I won the mental battle. And that, for me, is what the race of truth is ultimately about.

    I wish I could write like this. It’s bad purple prose and yet somehow sublime…

  15. There are well-founded reasons why football is a global sport. It is a simple game, easy rules to follow (not including the ‘offside’ of course), no specialist equipment or playing facilities required, no special physical requirements, and a professional game as a route out of poverty. The same applies to middle and ling-instance running, boxing.

    Football, running, boxing the 3 most global of sports. Yes. Does that mean football isn’t in decline? In Britain the evidence for decreasing numbers playing 11-a-side are pretty damning. Attendance and viewing figures are not quite as clear-cut but the trend for both is downward. Meanwhile the average age of fans going to games is upward too.

    Of course fotball isn’t in crisis. And it has its moments of huge appeal. Does that mean that those of us who are fans of football can’t look at other sports not only to enjoy the but also to think through what they have done right that football hasn’t?

    This summer will be the perfect moment for such a comparison. World Cup 2014 vs Tour de France, with first 4 days in GB.

    Mark

  16. Calvin on said:

    Mark P,

    This summer will be the perfect moment for such a comparison. World Cup 2014 vs Tour de France, with first 4 days in GB.

    Wait another eight years and there won’t be a clash cos the World Cup will be held in the winter in that great footballing nation Qatar. I bet more money was paid in bribes than the total wage bill for the Nepalese slaves who are building the stadium. Do I still like football? Yes, but what Mark says is spot on.

  17. “World Cup 2014 vs Tour de France, with first 4 days in GB”

    Only a non football fan could pose this question! But it is no comparison, world cup every single time. A festival of high level skill, beauty, artistry and human creativity in all it’s wonder, enjoyed by billions around the globe. There are many simple sports out there but only football has reached truly global popularity. This is no accident, no conspiracy, it is a sport that speaks directly to the human spirit of imagination and wanting more than simply eating and defecating (which is what cycling is closer to).

    Riding a bike doesn’t require the same level of mental aptitude, awareness, vision, intelligence as football, the experience is different.

    It would be a very sorry state of affairs if cycling was to become anything other than a minor sport but a very important part of keeping the body fit. It would mark a decline in the human species.

    The superficial (and fabricated) so called ‘popularity’ of cycling in this country stems from the perverse belief that winning medals is a way to measure the success of a nation. And winning medals in cycling is an easy target as the competition is very limited. It is a top down measure by a state that sends out officials, with tape measures in hand, to groom the young into becoming medal automons. Such is the nature of these sports.

    Interesting that Calvin lives in a nation that literally consumes off the back of millions of slaves all around the world but sees fit to criticise Qatar. I bet most of your cycling gear is made by slave labour!

    I am glad that the world cup is to be held outside the usual contenders. As for the Tour de France and it’s gutter level commercial reasons for coming to the UK, for me it will be one great travel headache. As the Tour will be coming directly through where I live in Sheffield. Apparently on the back of the Olympics they want volunteers (game makers) to come forward, or as I call them happy slaves. I don’t know what they call them in Qatar?

  18. Calvin on said:

    Marko: Interesting that Calvin lives in a nation that literally consumes off the back of millions of slaves all around the world but sees fit to criticise Qatar.

    Why is it interesting? This site is called ‘socialist unity’ which suggests there’s a good chance that commenters might oppose exploitation and show solidarity with migrant slave labour. I’m amazed that you don’t.

    As for cycling, before we go any further can you confirm that you do actually have a basic understanding of the sport or cycle road racing, i.e. the different roles within a team and how they work together, the role of aerodynamics, how terrain and conditions affects tactics, why some breakaways stay away and others don’t, why one team might be doing all the work on the front whilst another just wheel sucks, how to win a sprint and a mountain stage etc etc?

    Because if you don’t you have no basis on which to form an opinion about the amount of the skill involved, one way or another.