WELCOME TO the season of selections and the usual bar-stool disagreements, and of course castigation of those who feel they have a God-given right to sit in judgement (yes, that includes journalists, some of us who have never seen those we nod to) calling themselves adjudicators, whatever…
And sure, one of the wonderful aspects of these often pointless exercises - in that many of the winners have named themselves by their own achievements - is the discussion which ensues, and the opposing views of the many who do not find favour with either the winner's sport or indeed the individual choice.
Anticipation mounted and mounts as the two major selection processes on either side of the Irish Sea headed into countdown; the marvellously-staged BBC awards last week, and our own on RTE awards tomorrow (Wednesday 930pm) even if we don't have the sporting riches of our financially-endowed neighbours, yet manage to post global achievements far above our population expectations.
Then of course, is the never-ending argument as to what constitutes sport and how to define that word in the first place, but the Oxford Dictionary says: esp. an outdoor one (activity) involving physical exertion; and in the views of the many the recreational pursuits do not have the right of inclusion, although the Olympic bods have broken that belief when admitting golf, with quite a few of the leading professionals hardly classified as athletes and stealing a place on a number of disciplines which cannot win admission - at least until there is a commercial push and enough greasy palms taken care of.
Apparently our traditional view of sport has become linked to numerical participation, for how else could a game which can be played into one's seventh decade and possibly further, be thus accepted over codes like squash and even ballroom dancing (the terra firma edition of synchronise swimming and requiring infinitely more physical fitness than golf and many other 'sports')
A local enthusiast galvanised my version of a sportsman as one who 'has to sweat during training and the event,' but then that hardly excludes the millionaire laddies who may have to 'practice' in Arabian heat in search of lolly which can only be considered as immoral for their doubtful 'athletic' qualities and run for cover at the first sign of rain.
Let's get it straight… golfers who might be accorded the dubious accolade of a sportsman (usually by themselves) should, as my friend suggested, be considered for a Personality of the Year and certainly not sportsman, and I gather many from the Trojan tracks will look upon our golfers as not in any way representing our athletic imprint, but rather reward for a population-driven fanaticism with a game which resonates with the older community which is past anything but gentle effort and many doing the round with mechanical aid.
No lads, sport will - even in the dungeons of Carlow, Wicklow or Wexford - still command a position of pride, be it for the Junior 'B' player of the year, but believe me when I say no snooker or darts player will ever displace a local hero, even if his heroics may only be a relatively lowly-placed county medal, but at least it took hours of dark-days physical sloggin' to reach that dias.
The BBC in its wisdom to court ALL disciplines dropped in, not one but two golfers of not really athletic shapes. And how unfair the money graduating down that system when those of high athletic performance scratch for a living. Have we something to answer?
The BBC night is one of sporting wonderland…most who create dreams and posted figures invited… perhaps the greatest array of sporting talent ever assembled…an occasion to savour…a celebration of effort and achievement…a marvellous production. And an acknowledgment of just what? Athletic ability and achievement, or just these days a genuflection to commerce and a population which has lost the ability to discern; the adoration of couch fans and a cadre of 'participants' who are fortunate to be able to tart up doubtful activities and blanket them in the now-questionable covering of 'sport'.
Think about it, only true athlete in the BBC's top three, amazingly chosen by the public, was world darts champion Phil Taylor, second and ahead of multievent world champion Jessica Ennis.
At least they got it right when voting AP (Tony) McCoy first, but then the racing fraternity has a vast fan base which ensures that a weight-lifter, shooter or other minority sport champion will never join that honours list.
Art has gone the same route when just about anything unusual is accepted, and the infidel is he who opts for the traditional; the modern stuff a load of interpretative rubbish unless the gazer is fixated by some neuveu appreciation of what few can 'understand.' Thing is that, no matter who is promoting the 'arts,' we cannot escape from the raw and conflict spirit of athletic sport and what it engenders in those who appreciate the bumps and bruises, mental and physical.
Now, for ye of Junior football 'A' and the sweat which goes with preparation, consider the pace and power which Taylor had to demonstrate to win the world final; a 'sport' which has revolved around alcohol and until a few years ago tobacco; wonderful settings for our youth and the Brit hammering out the downsides of substance abuse on TV and few taking any blind notice.
Talking about example, what of Paul Galvin on the Late Late Show and his sartorial concern which seemed to be consistent with his languid gait, and obvious lack of comfort in front of camera? Just what did the red jumper and red socks wish to convey to an audience which must have been totally confused as, not only his wardrobe, but his direction. Teacher? any wonder he went for another route; what pupils could concentrate before that garb? Perhaps he should stick to football… he is good at it, but then he has not been flavour of the month, or a role model on he pitch either.
About tomorrow's RTE sports show; at least we don't have telly tubbies among the list, even though again I must question the classification of a golfer as an athlete. However, AP McCoy is in there for what would be an unbelievable double, although he will have strong opposition from swimmer Grainne Murphy whose training programme would have most gasping for air. But again it is down to what the public follow, and the tougher individual disciplines are not usually high on the wish-list.
My three? McCoy, Murphy and Graeme McDowell, although the last two may be reversed because of the few involved in swimming and many possibly not even hearing of the Co. Wexford girl.
And four Ulster candidates in the shortlist.