Sport On TV: Frankie Dettori leaves David Beckham in his shadow. That's no small feat
Sunday 19 May 2013
Channel 4 News seems to be losing its sense of perspective. Last week Fergie's retirement booted the Queen's Speech into touch, and this Thursday's bulletin led with Jon Snow declaring: "We are in the midst of racing's horrifying perfect storm."
Suddenly we were listening to a little chap who rides horses and stuck some cocaine up his nose (just the once, mind). Meanwhile, a truly global event was relegated to the nether regions: David Beckham was retiring.
Unlike with Sir Alex, the tributes paid to Becks (he's always being paid something) were more mixed. "No more Goldenballs," said Channel 4 pithily, while the BBC's Dan Rowan said: "This was a player whose fame arguably outweighed his talent." Fergie himself would have done plenty of arguing over that point.
The Beeb also said that Becks "transcends sport", which were the exact words used by Clare Balding in her interview with Frankie Dettori. The jockey's drug use has "shattered the image of one of the best-known and most exuberant personalities". Ah, personality. Sportsmen can't just be sportsmen any more, can they? And who do we have to thank for that? There are so many personalities coming and going at the moment that you need performance-enhancing drugs to keep up with them all.
Dettori blamed his fall – from grace, not off a pony – on the way he was sidelined by the Godolphin stable, who were subsequently disgraced in turn for their use of anabolic steroids. "My head was wrecked, absolutely wrecked," he added, so it must have been some good stuff. Then he ill-advisedly compared himself to sport's ultimate bad boy: "I feel like Lance Armstrong. They'll be knocking on my door every day." In fact it was the paparazzi, not the drug testers, who were camped outside his house. "I managed to smuggle my way into the house by hiding underneath the car seat," he said. Is he really so tiny that he can actually get under the seat rather than hide behind it? A useful piece of information for next time you're searching for loose change in the car park: take a jockey with you.
Meanwhile Snow was still storming ahead with his white- powder fixation. He told Paul Bittar of the British Horseracing Authority: "You go to the taxi ranks and they all talk about it. They say recreational drugs are rife in Newmarket." Well, you've got to fill your evenings somehow in deepest, darkest East Anglia. And thanks to Channel 4 News you know where to go now for your fix.
Sol Campbell emerged from the relative obscurity of his retirement to investigate an altogether sadder case of people with too much time on their hands. Panorama: Jobs for the Boys (BBC1, Monday) informed us that 49 per cent of black men between 16 and 24 are "classed as unemployed" and the former Spurs and Arsenal defender wanted to find out why.
One convicted drug dealer who wanted to be a rap star made him splutter, "I believe he should think about getting an ordinary job", which seemed a bit rich coming from a very rich former footballer.
He added: "The idea of musicians and footballers being role models makes me feel uncomfortable." Which is a real shame, because the solution to the problems of these men, apparently, is that "82 per cent would like to hear from a role model with their own background".
Campbell has a decent televisual presence and perhaps we should see more of him. But who, of all the retiring legends, will replace Alan Hansen on Match of the Day? Beckham would make the "tired" old show more "fashionable". But while everyone used to moan about how much the dour Scot was paid, it would be a pittance compared to what Becks would want.
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