Columnists 17.8.2016 04:35 pm

A babble of voices and a feast of sport

Jon Swift

Jon Swift

There is often more heated debate over sport than in parliament.

It was a bit like one of those confused conversations where everyone speaks at once and very little sense filters through to a collection of ears all attuned to their own agendas. “There is simply too much sport happening,” remarked the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer, for once making a rare observation of real accuracy and relevance.

But in truth he had hit the nail on the head as claim and counter-claim rung out from members of the assembly trumpeting their own preferences and trying their best to drown out the rest in the gathering clamour. There were the pair who had grabbed one of the available television screens to watch Italian rider Andrea Iannone record his maiden MotoGP victory in the Austrian Grand Prix and break a six-year drought for Ducati. “They could never have known that was going to happen,” said the the Arithmetically-challenged One.

And, surprisingly, once again his comment had the ring of reason behind it. The suggestion he tagged on though had little resonance with the informal gathering. “What about watching some of the Olympics?” he offered.

This found little favour with the cricket enthusiasts, desperate to watch the outcome of the final Test at The Oval in the series between England and the nomadic Pakistanis. “The Olympics?” came the resounding reply.

“There are nothing but endless replays from Rio on the box right now.” In the analysis, the pro-cricket voices were uplifted to the status of prophetic as Pakistan duly knocked off the 40 runs needed to hand out a 10-wicket hiding to the hosts in South London and square the series 2-2. “Surely,” said the Arithmetically-challenged One, “that was something of a foregone conclusion after Azhar Ali had spun the heart out of the Pom batsmen.”

This outpouring had a strong hint of logic about it, but it didn’t make it any more popular, especially when it was followed by an impassioned plea for a taste of what was happening at the Games in Brasil. For by far the biggest pressure on the overworked screens came from the followers of English football – most notably the Manchester United and Liverpool supporters who seem to miraculously multiply in dark corners when their teams are in action. “Come on,” was the somewhat raucous reaction.

“It’s the first weekend of the new season. It’s important. The soccerites were duly mollified United by goals from Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured them a victorious 3-1 start to the league campaign over Bournemouth.

“But you would surely have expected that even though Jose Mourinho didn’t have world record signing Paul Pogba to call on, wouldn’t you?” was the Arithmetically-challenged One’s acerbic observation.

With Liverpool about to kick off against Arsenal, the remark was met with the sound of one hand clapping, followed by a lively debate on the eventual result. In the event, the outcome was a seven-goal thriller with Juergen Klopp’s Reds triumphing 4-3 at the Emirates.

It was at this juncture that the Arithmetically-challenged One found himself alone and in no real mood to monitor the goings on in South America, so he decided to join the general exodus, set the alarm and the coffee machine for the early hours of Monday morning and finally get to watch the Olympics undisturbed. It was, as it proved, a prudent decision.

First came Wayde van Niekerk’s world record gold in the men’s 400m, then Usain Bolt disdainfully shaking off all challenges in the 100m final, and ultimately the South African hero and the Jamaican legend locked in a congratulatory embrace.

“Now why didn’t they listen and watch the Olympics?” he said to himself. Thankfully, in the self-contained void, there was no one to answer him.

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