Our Crack Tongue & Groove
The Olympics. What not to watch.
I got caught up in the 2012 Olympics like no other games before, eagerly following every twist, turn and tantrum of the shooting, judo and archery. But such commitment to watching the ‘home’ games, however, did mean that I ended up watching some utter twaddle. And I know what you’re thinking? Synchronised swimming, right? Wrong! While I’m not a lover of any sport where a bank of judges award points for ‘artistic merit’, the best performers invariably waltzed off with the gold. (And I think a lot of sports could be vastly improved if they were held underwater. Equestrian dressage, for one.)
So I’m giving a pass to synchronized swimming this year but I’m definitely elbowing BMX racing, a sport that took a bow in London 2012 for the very first time. Ostensibly this, like motor racing, sounds exciting on paper, but in reality, the person who manages to get to the first bend in the lead invariably wins the race. After watching the final in 2012 an excited commentator posited the notion that, “You could run this race again in half an hour and get a totally different result”, which had me shouting at the screen, “Well what the bloody hell is the point of that?” You may as well draw lots, which would certainly save on ex-Blue Peter presenters trying to find new ways of shouting “Radical!” every time someone fell off.
And I couldn’t quite get a handle on handball, either. It looked a bit like five-a-side football except rendered utterly pointless by the fact that everyone can use their hands. Where’s the skill in that? It was like watching 14 goalkeepers on court with all the non-entertainment value that that implies. The games I saw consisted of Danes throwing a ball into a largely unguarded net from the distance of about a yard. Rubbish.
And I’m afraid that I cannot let the Paralympics off scot-free either. On the one hand it was incredible, inspiring, highly competitive, and produced some real stars, but on the other hand, blind football. Now before anyone starts booing, can I just say that I have total admiration for the players of this sport who show astonishing courage as they hurtle around the pitch in pursuit of a ball - which is fitted with a device to make a noise - with seemingly little consideration for their safety. But as a spectator sport you’re basically spending 50 minutes watching 10 people who have a very limited understanding of where the ball and their teammates actually are. And after watching Newcastle United last season I’m not going through that again this summer.