Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A Sport In Disrepute?

I became disillusioned with one particular sport, Boxing, many years ago when a profileration of governing bodies - WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBU et al - meant that becoming 'world champion' possibly meant that a boxer was one of the top fifteen or so in the world at a particular weight, and that he may even be able to fight another top-ranked fighter, if it suited their promoters.

I am having similar feelings regarding Formula One. As I write, we await the verdict of an FIA International Court of Appeal panel in Paris as to whether three teams, including the current high-flyers Brawn, have contravened the sport's latest set of rules. According to many more educated in these matters than I, the outcome of the world title may be settled by this ruling. Formula One seems to have an unfortunate habit of determining winners and losers in steward's rooms and appeal panels rather than on the track. As a spectator, this must take away from the drama on the track, once you start the believe that the guy crossing the line first is simply the 'provisional' winner, pending appeals.

The sport seems to be overrun with self-interested parties. The triangle of governing body / commercial rights owner / team owners have developed a sport of annual rule changes, serial rule-breakers and serial litigation. The season started with a bizarre late (and fundamental) rule change, instigated by Bernie Ecclestone, passed through as law without proper debate, and then 'put on hold' once the teams held up their hands in horror. This was the equivalent of Rupert Murdoch deciding in mid-August that Champions League games would be an hour long, to suit TV schedules, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter nodding it through as law, and then on the day of the first games, Manchester United and Barcelona saying they wouldn't play unless we reverted back to 90 minutes.

I'm not really that bothered whether the current Brawn 'rear diffuser' is legal. But until we can have a spell of action based exclusively on the track rather than the courtroom, I won't be that interested. I have noticed that over the last couple of years, I've tended to watch only the start and first-corner action, and then just check occasionally on the positions and the final result. This gave me an idea which may resolve the issues above. If the contest was limited to one lap, the rest of the two hour duration could be spent with the various potential podium-finish driver combinations squirting champagne around and having their photos taken. Then, once the actual top three positions for the race were resolved by an appeal court judge, photos and video of the winners would be available to publish around the world.

Finally, to push the soccer / formula one comparison, I note that in last night's game at Stamford Bridge, both Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole played for Chelsea. I believe that both players were born in England, yet play for an English club. This is clearly against the rules of the Champion's League. I believe an appeal may be in order...

No comments:

Post a Comment