James Lawton: Button contracts latest sporting malaise

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The Formula One prospect Jenson Button has joined the most expanded sports club of all in these days of ever-growing financial rewards.

Like almost the entire jet-lane, itinerant football population, the 24-year-old Button insists that it is only the thrust of ambition which has driven him to switch from the BAR team and move to Williams. "I have not betrayed the team," he says. "I want to give myself the best chance of being world champion. I know it will not be easy walking into the BAR garage but, hopefully, they will understand in time.

"It's 100 per cent untrue that I'm changing teams for money," he added. "The team to give me the most realistic chance of winning the world championship next year is Williams."

No doubt this is true, but what happened to the old idea that when you make a commitment, which used to be the implication of signing a contract, you see it through?

There are various aspects to the challenge of becoming a world champion. One of them is a certain character that insists you meet all of your obligations. Whatever we sometimes think of the arrogance of Michael Schumacher, there has never been a flicker of doubt about his willingness to finish any job he ever started - one of the qualities that has persuaded Button's boss of choice, Sir Frank Williams, that the German may be the greatest racer of all time.

By comparison, Button, for all his talent, at the moment looks less a world champion and more another short-term opportunist. The annals of every sport are simply littered with them.