Taking offence is a national sport
Published 26/07/2015 | 17:00
Is there anything dafter than Irish people working themselves into a lather because one of our sportspeople has been described as "British" across the water? The merest mention of it and we do our best impersonation of the village mob in Frankenstein, heading for the old mill with pitchforks and torches in hand.
The latest frenzy was sparked by Mark James describing Paul Dunne in passing as a British player during the Open. Cue outrage, whining and bluster. When his mistake was pointed out to James on air the next day he made light of it with a jokey comment about wanting to be inclusive, something which apparently merely compounded his perfidy in the eyes of the offended.
This was the second such controversy in the past couple of weeks, the last one having been sparked by Conor McGregor being described as "British" on the BBC Sport website.
What apparently renders such mistakes very serious indeed is the notion that the British are "claiming" our sportsmen. It's as though Dunne and McGregor might actually have been turned British by being named so. It's like they're Rockall.
In reality it makes absolutely no difference how the British media describe an Irish sportsman. If they're Irish they're going to stay Irish. So why worry about it?
Maybe it's because of the disappointing summer but we do seem peculiarly primed for outrage this weather. Witness the furore a couple of weeks back when some bimbo on Fox News described Rory McIlroy as a "Leprechaun."
What you had there was an ignorant person on an ignorant channel saying something ignorant. It was about as surprising as seeing a dog licking its bollocks. Yet this also had to be turned into an orgy of breast-beating and olagóning. The comment was even described as "An insult to the Irish people". Well, thanks to counselling, I've managed to overcome my hurt and hopefully the rest of you will also manage to do so in time. Though I suspect those protesting the most about this grave affront to our national dignity probably said harsher things about McIlroy when he was thinking about declaring for Britain in the Olympics. But that was OK, because that was us.
This storm in a teacup stuff isn't a solely Hibernian phenomenon. Witness the manufactured witch hunt against Peter Alliss for a couple of comments at the Open, one of which was mildly sexist and the other which might conceivably have been judged overly risqué by someone recently released from a 50-year stint in a monastery. On his final lap as a commentator Alliss had to suffer the indignity of seeing the BBC apologise on his behalf. Result. Because the point in all these cases is to try and make someone apologise or, even better, resign. Once that's done the mob is satisfied and can gear itself up for the next attack on its delicate sensibilities.
Wouldn't we all be much better off simply supporting our own great Irish sports stars, Mo Farah, Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Froome and the like? See? Doesn't make a bit of difference.
Sunday Indo Sport