Weekend round-up

Over the course of the last few days, a lot has happened and here’s my thoughts on some of it.

Let me begin by saying that this blog is going to be full of opinion, not just bland comment about how much I love my teams – that’s a given and if I wanted hits, I’d do it. But I don’t want hits without being true to myself. If you don’t agree, I’d love to hear counter-opinions and if you want to write anything for me, I’d be happy to post it!

Boxing

First up, a sport that I don’t really care for and one I don’t understand why it exists. The recent death of Mike Towell, following on from more high profile incidents such as Kell Brook’s broken eye socket and Nick Blackwell spending time in a coma due to head trauma, highlights the dangers of this sport.

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The issue for me isn’t the fighters – many of these men (and women) are smart individuals and they have made the choice to get into the ring. My issue is I just don’t see how, in this day and age, hitting someone (and being hit) is a fun pastime, career, or makes for good viewing. The sole aim in boxing is to hurt your opponent. The quickest way to win is via knock-out, and it’s not called that without reason.

I’m a big fan of many other contact sports and many of them involve collisions every bit as dangerous as being punched in the head. I understand that, because I’m not an idiot either. But the sole aim of these sports isn’t to hurt another person – the collisions are incidental to the sport. In boxing, the collisions ARE the sport. Rugby, I was told at the weekend, was a “combat sport” like boxing. I don’t agree with this at all – it’s a high impact, contact sport but if 30 men spent 80 minutes just running straight at each other, there wouldn’t be much of a sport.

It’s hard to argue for boxing to be banned though when those involved enjoy it so much. Michael Watson, who was permanently brain-damaged in a fight against Chris Eubank, likened boxing to dog-fighting.

“It’s what people love to see. It’s human nature. No different to seeing dogs fight.”

Last I checked, dog fighting was illegal, Michael, and I wouldn’t pay to watch that, either. We already live in a world of pain and suffering – why do we need to inflict more upon ourselves?

Formula One

Number 2 on lists of sports I don’t usually watch, but I did this Sunday morning – an early rise and a later train to the rugby meant finding something to watch on TV, so F1 won.

I’m not a massive fan for the sole reason that I don’t think driving around in a circle is a sport and I don’t think F1 is truly a test of the best driver. It’s of the best car, mechanics and who has most money to waste.

However, it’s great to have a British sportsmen at the top of his field and when I switched on, Lewis Hamilton was indeed leading and a close race looked likely. However, when Hamilton’s engine gave up on him, my Twitter feed was full of people celebrating his misfortune. This struck me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, as a nation, why are we always so keen to put down our own country-men and women? Fans, media… they just can’t wait for an epic failure to laugh at. Are they just jealous of the success?

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Secondly, even if he is an arrogant arse (and undoubtedly he is!), why would you wish him ill and will on drivers from other nations? Our nation should be proud to produce winners, wherever they’re from and whatever their background, but you’d rather have a German winning? Individual sports are not same as team sports, and we all know Hamilton is driving for himself, not for GB, but I still don’t understand not wanting your countrymen and women to do well. I used to call it Andy Murray Syndrome, but it clearly runs deeper than that.

NFL

This weekend, the NFL returned to London. This year there are three matches at Wembley and Twickenham. I had made a conscious decision not to go this year and instead planned my NFL viewing around a forth-coming trip to the US.

I have to admit, I hadn’t enjoyed the London games much in the past, mostly because they felt like 80,000 neutrals watching teams that nobody really cared about. The atmosphere was pretty quiet and the “home” support was almost completely non-existent.

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This year, though, that looks to have moved up a notch. Whilst waiting at Euston for my train, I was surrounded by the usual variety of NFL jerseys, but it became more apparent that Jaguar jerseys were becoming much popular. As a result, the comments coming from Wembley this time around made it sound much more like proper “home” atmosphere, and this can only help the Jags and the possibility of a London/UK/European franchise.

I’m still not sure it would work, 100%, but it is certainly moving closer. The logistical issues will never go away, but what of the fans? The competition within London is already huge – there is so much to do here, would adding another sport on a regular basis still pull in 80,000+ people? And what price a London Sillinannies season ticket? Long term, NFL only works here if the price is comparable to other activities. Would fans change allegiance to support this team, too? Would long term SF, GB, NYG fans living in the UK suddenly change allegiance to support their local team? I know I wouldn’t but I know I’d go along but possibly only once or twice per season.

Aside from the “would it work” question, I personally don’t agree with it. The NFL is the NATIONAL Football League and that nation is the US. I love NFL, but it’s the Americanism that I love about it, too. One or two games a season? Perfect. A whole franchise? Not for me.

Golf

I seem to be talking about lots of sports I don’t really watch, but Ryder Cup… it’s fascinating viewing whereas I regularly find golf watching a bit dull.

Of course, given a lot of my family are American, it’s always nice to get one over on them but it wasn’t to be this time.

The result was bad enough, but rubbish like Peter Willett’s comments just made the victory all the sweeter for the men across the pond. The “funny” article which wasn’t funny hit a raw nerve with US golf players and fans and whilst many over-stepped this weekend, it had to have had an effect on the European team, too.

And let’s be honest – some of them did live up to the hype, but Rory McIlroy’s antics were hardly endearing, either. He’s not my favourite person given his Olympic stance but he did his part for our team at the weekend and it was good to see him give a bit back to the Americans, even if Reed had his number at the end.

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Rugby

Finally to rugby, and this weekend I was lucky enough to be at Wasps v Harlequins. Another solid win for Wasps, without ever looking at their best, sets up a huge game next week at Allianz Park against last years double winners, Saracens.

Wasps go into this game 5/5 but Sarries are hot on their heels. With Bath and Leicester making up the top 4 currently, and both expected to win next weekend, Wasps and Sarries won’t want to let their guard slip.

Sarries have extra motivation having been on the end of a thrashing in February but this came during the 6 Nations when neither team was at full strength. Next Sunday will be a different beast and one I’m both looking forward to and dreading – I’m going with a Sarries fan and it will be unbearable if they win!

At the other end, Bristol are already in trouble and they are getting to the stage of must-wins. A trip to Newcastle on Saturday has to be targeted for some points and a win would really help. Can’t see it, myself, but you never know!

 

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