Tuesday 20 November 2018

Axing of Sports Tonight exposes an absence of logic

It's a great pity to see TV3's Sports Tonight biting the dust. The late-night digest of the day's news was invaluable to anyone trying to keep up with the world of sport, doing precisely and succinctly in half an hour what took something like Sky Sports News a whole day to achieve.

It was also a standing rebuke to RTE. In the same way that TG4's innovative club championship coverage and All-Ireland Gold series showed up the Montrose sports department, Sports Tonight was an antidote to the hit-and-miss approach of RTE when it comes to sports news. That they did not follow the programme's lead says a great deal about institutional complacency at the national broadcaster.

Unfortunately, Sports Tonight is no more, notwithstanding the fact that TV3 judges it worthwhile to keep something like the charmless Xpose, for example, on our screens although its viewing figures are no better. Sports Tonight, one would imagine, is also a bit cheaper to make.

That the programme was blessed with hard-working and enthusiastic reporters and presenters, Trevor Welch and Sinead Kissane in particular, makes its axing all the more inexplicable. Yet these are the times we live in with the recession giving corporate suits a chance to wield the axe. If you're suffering at their hands, I wish you well.

And I'm afraid to say that the most pointless articles to emerge from our Grand Slam triumph are those which argue that it may be the harbinger of political change or that it has some lessons to teach us.

Cop on. Had Ronan O'Gara missed his drop goal we would still live in a country where banking chiefs rake in the cash and laugh up their sleeves at the plebs, where Mary Hanafin, like some relic of East European communism, encourages people to snitch anonymously on their neighbours as a civic duty, where the cops tread softly with Anglo Irish Bank and carry a big stick to the Ray D'Arcy Show, and where incompetent banks are bailed out at a cost of billions while the Government never even considers nationalising a great Irish company like Waterford Crystal.

After all, the greatest ever team was probably the Brazil side which won the 1970 World Cup. At the time, Brazil was ruled by a corrupt military dictatorship with a penchant for torturing anyone who disagreed with it.

That's how much connection sporting success has with good government. Let's not cheapen the Grand Slam by pretending otherwise.

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