One of the least pleasant aspects of life in the press box is not the level of personal hygiene, nor the number of Liverpool fans, nor the unbiased journalists roaring for their own counties.
All of these count among the venial sins – as in Who Among Us, etc. (I’m referring to roar here and not personal hygiene).
One of my pet peeves is the opinion, often ventilated in the press box, on access to pitchers and footballers, which goes along the lines of lamenting a pastoral era where an inter-county star would invite you to his home for a feast of barm brack / pints of stout / unbridled insight and confession.
This Golden Age of a Thousand Homes is usually timestamped as ending around five minutes ago. Last year was better than this year, five years ago it was five times better, and 20 years ago you couldn’t leave an interview without getting two acres of good pasture, three steaks and a little baby to take with you.
The golden memories really start to shine at this time of the season, with the All-Ireland finals on the horizon (almost said at this time of year by mistake), with the ensuing player interviews starting to appear.
Or not, contrasting more sharply with the past remembered by its participants.
In my experience, people tend not to bring up the issue of GAA player interviews, and with good reason. They are extremely rare, and even rarer is the player who allows himself to reveal a burst of personality. More often than not, the interviews you read are related to an ad campaign or product advertisement anyway.
This is not objectionable in itself. Any reasonable person would probably think, “Well, this actor lends his image to promote a company and the company benefits; he should therefore be remunerated for his time”.
A reasonable person might also ask the question: ‘what is the difference between these two situations – a paid appearance to promote a particular product and an unpaid non-appearance to promote the team he plays for?’
The uncomfortable truth is that many GAA players are happy enough to play the “I’m an amateur and it’s my hobby and I keep my head down so it’s all about the game” card.
But when there’s money on the table, they’re just as happy to talk.
As noted, if a multinational with a turnover of several million euros seeks to bask in the reflective glow of a pitcher or a footballer, then of course those players should be reimbursed.
But being refunded means the amateur argument is holed up below the waterline. This means that a player basically has no objection to being interviewed as long as he is paid.
This does not mean that players, or former players, are always aware of the contradictions in their positions. My favorite subdivision of this genre includes the ex-player who becomes an expert but continues to refer to “media” with a straight face, as if. . . it was just a bit of a media thing, like being a bit pregnant.
Another minor category is the former player now surprised that there is so little preparation for a big game, blissfully unaware – or dishonest – of his own contribution to this state of affairs.
The logic seems to be, ‘I was fine with being a silent automaton, but now that I’m a working facsimile of an ordinary person again, I’m amazed that players are silent automatons. What’s up with that?
Nothing, is the answer. Usually the quality of the contribution shows you that these guys were playing the silent automaton as well in the first place.
After reading my thoughts on player access in Gaelic games, if you want to see a powerful counter-argument, a thesis against increased access, consider Wimbledon, which ended recently.
The men’s singles final featured Novak Djokovic, whose later years included – in no particular order – hosting a tennis tournament during the height of covid that had to be scrapped when too crowded. take. . . covid; promoting bizarre theories of well-being; and, of course, being a leader in the “I do my own research” covid crackpot movement, which led to Novaxx Djokovic’s unstoppable nickname.
The other finalist, who qualified thanks to Rafael Nadal who withdrew from the other semi-final through injury, was Australian Nick Kyrgios. This year again, at Wimbledon, he called a linesman a “snitch” and spat on the spectators. He called an Irish match official a “potato”.
Small potatoes compared to the assault case that awaits him at home: next month, Kyrgios will face an assault charge against his ex-girlfriend.
The two are not friends, by the way. Last year, Kyrgios tweeted that “Djokovic is a tool” about something or other.
“Off the pitch, I don’t have much respect for him, to be honest. That’s where I’m going to shut him down.
Compliments pass when the quality is there, huh?
Before I leave tennis (aside) (quite), can I direct you to a very interesting piece on the 538.com site by Jonathon Braden and Matt Fitzpatrick?
The title tells you everything: outdoor tennis could be the first big casualty of climate change in sport.
Braden and Fitzpatrick have used climate data models to map the possibilities of tennis in the coming decades, and they don’t look pretty.
“At the 2050 French Open in Paris, players were able to experience a . . . temperature potentially reaching 90 (32.2 degrees Celsius). The peak when Nadal won his record 14th Roland Garros title earlier this month- 72 degrees (22.2 degrees Celsius).
“At Wimbledon the groundskeeping team will have to work very hard to keep the lawns lush and tidy as it could feel like 102 degrees (38.8 degrees Celsius) in London in 2050.
“But that could feel like a reprieve from the 2050 US Open in New York, where the heat index could reach 145 degrees (62.7 degrees Celsius).”
What factor would then be needed? 200? Don’t forget the games we play here in the summer months, by the way.
If the mercury continues to rise, everything may need to be run in the depths of (increasingly mild) winter.
Names like Bronislaw Malinowski and James Haddon might not mean much these days, but Lucy Moore is clearly determined to change that.
His bookroams the big beasts of the field of anthropology like the aforementioned pair, with critics raving about his portrayals of these individuals, who seem destined to have written “eccentric” before their names.
For example, she tells us, Malinwoski brought 24 crates of supplies with him to the Trobriand Islands, carrying “lemonade crystals, canned oysters and lobster, various kinds of chocolate and cocoa, Spanish olives, eggs codfish, potted hare, canned and dried vegetables, half hams, French brandy, tea, six different jams and lots of condensed milk”.
On the other hand, he brought a toothbrush.