Sunday, 7 July 2013


The mercury is rising and my fan is popping in its bearing as it struggles to push enough air through this cramped attic room. Today’s watchword will be ‘endure’ hoping that this heat doesn't dry the reptile blood in my veins. It will be tolerable so long as the neighbours don’t have yet another barbecue. It’s probably too much to hope for. They’re red toothed meat eaters with raptor claws. Peering through the knots in the fence is like gazing into a cannibal apocalypse but with fewer manners and more HP sauce.

I also refuse to get my hopes up about the Men’s Wimbledon final. We’re now deep into wasp season, when we expect heat rash, parasites, and national disappointment. Any sportsperson I sit down to watch will usually fail so I’ll try not to watch the final in order to give Andy Murray a fighting chance. I just wish other people were equally superstitious. I see David Cameron is weaseling himself into the game. If Murray loses, people will say it’s the curse of Cameron. If Murray wins, people will say that Cameron is making political capital by being associated with sporting success. Not that I suppose it means much in the grand scheme of things. The Royal Box has been filled with so much villainy this week and the sight of James Corden pumping his fists into the air was enough to put me off tennis forever.

These are cynical thoughts for such a sunny Sunday morning but I’m finding my interest in sport lessens the more it becomes part of the great edifice we've erected in this country to celebrate the crass and imbecilic of celebrity culture. I was standing on Warrington Bank Quay station yesterday waiting for the London train. On the other platform were glossy backlit ads for the coming football season. I felt completely indifferent to the prospect.

Previous years I've been hooked on reading about transfer dealings at Liverpool and looking forward to the season. This year I can’t find the enthusiasm to bother. The last few seasons have almost totally killed my passion for the sport. First Fernando Torres jumped ship to Chelsea, which felt bad but I reconciled it with the £50 million Liverpool got for his sale and the fact that he’d been struggling all season. Yet, this year, Luis Suarez’s media games have totally soured it for me. All season he professes loyalty to the club, despite doing some pretty dumb things on the pitch that have tested even the loyalist supporter, but then, as soon as the season is over, he’s acting like the cheapest trull turning tricks on some street corner in downtown Madrid.

Footballers profess loyalty but it is hypocritical crabshit intended to sell shirts. Players and managers: they’re all mercenary. Even players local to their club can be lured away if the money is good enough. Supporting a team is no longer about supporting a history, a community or an ideal. It’s about supporting a financial position, a business contract, an arbitrary arrangement agreed between individuals whose motivations are 180 degrees different to what you as a support expect. Many fans tattoo their club crest on an arm or leg. Players should tattoo the symbol for the euro, pound or dollar.

Tennis seems to be nobler than that but perhaps it’s no better. For one fortnight in July we hear how Wimbledon is a special place but we forget that these players are touring all year and visiting many ‘special’ places. To spectators it’s a romantic ideal, a passionate competition, a unique distraction. To the players it is the current stop on the World Tour. Platitudes are said and excuses made. Surprises happen but they’re all part of the script. We go for the sport but we’re sold an event. We support an individual but we’re really funding a brand.

Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray? Head or Adidas?

I’m crossing my fingers for Murray and for that vestige of hope that still lingers that sport is still bigger than the spin.

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