Sport on TV: It's not a matter of life or death but there's blood on the carpet
Sunday 30 November 2008
Bowls is forever hoping to appeal to a younger crowd. The International Open in Burgess Hill has been on daytime TV on BBC2 this week, but their highlights packages have been shown well after midnight, presumably aimed at all those fanatics coming in from a big night out.
On Friday morning the programme ended at 3am. That's not much use to the blue-rinse brigade, who would have been tucked up in bed for eight hours by then. Plus they don't know how to work the video and they think that Sky Plus is some form of herbal medication.
The big events tend to be indoors only these days, presumably because it gets a bit nippy outside. Indoor bowls is played on a carpet, tending to reinforce the idea that a pair of slippers would be in the kitbag, if not a pipe. After all, you have to brave the great outdoors to have a smoke.
It can't do the sport too many favours that this event is sponsored by the Co-op's Funeralcare service. As their website says, "None of us know what the future holds, but we do know that it's good to plan ahead". What they're really saying is: we'd like to remind you that you might die at any moment.
When Aussie Steve Glasson greeted his rapid victory over England's Ian Bond with the words: "It was a shock to the system, getting out of the blocks so quick", you almost feared for his health. Bond is affectionately known as the "Devon Destroyer", which doesn't quite make you quake in your fur-lined, zip-up boots.
Nor do the replays of the precise moment of delivery exactly set the pulses racing. The sport does not lend itself to the rapid advances in technology. When "super slo-mo" comes on the scene, it's going to take a lifetime for the woods to reach the jack.
No one could complain about the action, though. It has been a week of seismic upsets – though not too shocking, please – with only one seed surviving into the quarter-finals in what is the second biggest event on the World Bowls Tour calendar.
So watch out for Andrew Walters, a petrol station assistant from Malvern who certainly isn't over the hill. He pulled off a major shock in his first appearance in a WBT event by beating the world No 9, Kelvin "Spike" Kerkow, having only joined the Professional Bowls Association in June as a 21st birthday present from his mother. There must be a lot of people in the crowd who would like to "mother" him. He didn't make today's final, but he'll be back – at least another 50 times.
There's a Jonathan Ross on the rinks, obviously brought in to appeal to the kids by leaving answer-machine messages with the old folk about their grandchildren's naughtiness. Mervyn King's in action too. We should all be worrying about our pensions if the governor of the Bank of England has gone bowlin'.
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