Blog Watch: Views On Ribery, Collymore And Football An Entertainment


Offside – interfering with play. [Photo: Alan Hill]Two interesting articles from the the national press during the past week on Franck Ribery and Stan Collymore and whether football is in the entertainment business.

Blog Watch

With Spurs’ lack of involvement over the past ten days, I have had time to catch up on some articles by football writers for the national newspapers. Karen Brady‘s Diary in The Sun was really good, cutting like a knife through the blinkered smokescreen of self-promotion that some players use social media for. I am glad I read her diary first because she said exactly what I was going to say on at least two subjects.  Check it out.

Her comments on Ribery and Collymore are spot on,

“Monday January 20: …Displaying the degree of sportsmanship for which he is famous, the Bayern Munich forward announces that he and not Ronaldo should have won the golden ball award for being the best player in the world. At least Ribery put in an appearance for the awards. It’s more than he is doing in Paris, where he is being tried for having sex with an underage prostitute.”

She says that something should be done about the racial abuse Collymore is receiving on Twitter. She follows that up in her entry for Thursday January 23 with,

“On the other hand, Collymore is not exactly averse to a bit of abuse himself as Ulrika Johnson, the former girlfriend to whom he delivered a black eye, points out today. Neither is she the only woman to complain of his appalling behaviour towards them. Abuse of women is as bad as racial abuse and she has every right to call him a hypocrite.”

Football: Sort or Entertainment

Occasionally you come across an article that transcends mere basic commentary and raises sports journalism to another level. So I make no apologies for quoting extensively from an article in The Times by Simon Barnes on Friday 17 January responding to Alan Pardew’s claim that Tiote’s goal should have been allowed,

"because this is an entertainment business after all."

Barnes writes:

“No it isn’t, it’s a sport. A clown with his pants falling down is entertainment…Sport is different. The more you try to turn sport into entertainment, the more you lose the point of the whole damn thing….An extra goal matters when the score is 1 – 0. And if you tinker with that balance in the name of entertainment you lose the soul of your sport – without which there isn’t much entertainment. You don’t take Strictly Come Dancing with any degree of seriousness whatsoever because you accept it as entertainment pure and simple. But if you want sport to work it needs a bit of seriousness…Any athlete who says, “I see myself as an entertainer” should be banned for life. Sport is incidentally entertaining and the closer sport sticks to it the more meaningful sport is – and the more compelling…

Sport after sport has been manipulated or tweaked or gimmicked up with a view to making them entertaining. And almost every time, the result is bad for sport.”

Barnes goes on to quote several examples where sports governing bodies have tinkered with the rules to make it more entertaining; the offside rule shambles, designated hitter in baseball, rugby union re-setting scrums. T20 in cricket, he writes, is OK but not all that interesting.

“As sport it is not as good as test cricket, as entertainment it’s not as good as any film with Julia Roberts in it” ..In short to make sport work you have to give something of yourself. You are not a client, you are a participant. That’s not entertainment, that’s commitment. It’s deeper than a casual thrill, deeper than a couple of sixes. It’s not something that passes an idle hour: it’s part of your life…The more sport goes out of its way to entertain us, the less it succeeds…The more sport seeks to be an entertainment, the less entertaining it becomes.”

If you can get hold of a copy of the full article it is worth reading in full.