Friday 23 August 2019

If you're not in, you can't win with these epic contests

Cricket, tennis, football, GAA (all channels)

Novak Djokovic consoles Roger Federer at the net. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/AFP/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic consoles Roger Federer at the net. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/AFP/Getty Images
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

At this time of year, you will often hear some energetic young reporter on the radio going through a list of all the great things you can do for a bit of family entertainment - it seems there are hundreds of local festivals, with street theatre and face-painting and the like, hundreds of ways of having a day out in Ireland which will be both enjoyable and uplifting.

But what they never mention is that sometimes it's better to have a day in. Yes, the day out can be excellent, but if you were out last Sunday, really you were in the wrong place.

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You may not have realised this at the time, due to the great weather - yes, on a day of blazing sunshine it is easy to believe there is no better place to be than out. But in time you may come to realise that no matter how good it was where you were, there were things happening in other places that were better. And these things could mainly be seen on television.

They could be heard on the radio too, but for best results you needed to be watching them on television. And while you might have been able to do this in a pub while you were out doing something else, ideally you'd have been in your own home or, at a stretch, in somebody else's home - the main thing, is that no matter whose home it was, you were "in" it.

Ah yes, the great indoors can get a bad press sometimes, but last Sunday it was where you needed to be for the Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand and the bit of Gaelic football between Kerry and Mayo if that is your bag.

And even if it isn't your bag, you'd probably flick over to it, to check the score while the tennis players were on a toilet break or the cricketers were stopping for drinks.

This was all on terrestrial television too, the broadcasters having taken the wise decision to have the cricket final not just on Sky but on Channel 4 too.

So if you were out somewhere, not only did you miss some of the most absorbing contests ever witnessed, you were missing something which may not happen again for the foreseeable future - these days anything that seems like some kind of a free service to the general public is in grave danger.

So it all came together just like old times, all the more so because the tennis and the cricket have no fixed ending - indeed, in theory you could have gone out to your festival and come back and they would still have been playing, though of course you really needed to be watching them all day, with the curtains closed.

If for some strange reason you don't like cricket you still had all the other stuff, but there was also the fact England's captain Eoin Morgan is Irish, and we will always find a way to watch an Irishman holding a World Cup trophy - as long as we're not out, of course.

But sport on TV on golden days like this is even more all-encompassing than it has ever been - Morgan made a massive statement with his lines at the press conference about the diversity of the England group, a direct hit on the reactionary forces of English nationalism.

Moreover, when you consider the most powerful statement of late against Trump was made by footballer Megan Rapinoe - and you throw in Shoulder to Shoulder, Brian O'Driscoll's recent documentary on the way Irish rugby has risen above sectarianism - you are seeing some new energy coming into play.

So degenerate has the political class become, it seems sports people are not just giving us visions of excellence as they always have done, they are also taking a kind of moral responsibility others have relinquished.

They are putting on these all-day TV thrillers and then they're offering guidance on the state of the world and, frankly, no amount of face-painting can do that for you.

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