Sport on Television: Rusedski, hissy fits and the art of bottling

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The Independent Online

When the Greg [expletive deleted] Rusedski affair erupted on Wednesday, this observer was left wondering about the bloke whose shout kicked things off. Was he proud of himself? Did he ring his mum to tell her what he'd just done? And why wasn't he lynched? As a fan, it was galling to see him turn up on BBC News 24 wearing Manchester United colours. A geek in a replica shirt, he obviously was proud of what will doubtless turn out to be the most noteworthy event of his three-score and 10.

But then he didn't exactly lose the match for Rusedski, who needed no help in that department. As the commentating Barry Davies said immediately afterwards, it was up to the big lummox (my word, not the patrician Bazza's) to put it all out of his head and get on with things. What would he do if he was playing in a football match in front of 60,000 rabid bigots, most of them referring to him in terms far worse than those he applied to the hapless umpire on Wednesday? Throw another hissy fit? Thkweam and thkweam until he's thick? Why didn't he just drop-kick the fellow and have done with it? A lengthy suspension might give him time to sort his head out.

There was a bemused sort of pleasure in watching the greatest ranter of them all, the biggest motormouth since Adolf Schickelgruber changed his name and went into politics, pass judgement on Rusedski. As John McEnroe said later on Today at Wimbledon (BBC2), the Canadian, as I think we should all start referring to him again, was in the driving seat for the set and on course to fight his way back into the match. And then "he lost it over something that was meaningless".

So that left Tim Henman, Britain's Omega Man of the third round (Britain's Omega Person, in fact). Last year, Wimbledon generated £25.6m for the Lawn Tennis Association, and what I want to know is: when they get so much money, why are Nice But Tim and Bad-Ass Greg the only half-decent Brits in the game? On Wednesday, Today at Wimbledon interviewed Olga Morozova, who lost to Chris Evert in the 1974 singles final and now coaches the Russian women. What are they doing in her country that we are unable to emulate, for all our riches?

It mostly comes down to a good club system, she said - clearly referring to tennis clubs as places where people play the game, rather than smashing bars with a couple of courts attached for the delectation of sporty Middle England types. The kind of places where kids are actually welcome, with proper coaches and what Morozova refers to as "great parents pushing their children, spending 95 per cent of the time round tennis courts". This system does exist, of course. In Russia, in Spain, in Sweden, in Brazil...

Like a German and his beach towel, it was tempting, even before seeing all of A Question of Sport Out-Takes Special (BBC1, Tuesday), to get my put-down in early. When Sue Barker told viewers at the beginning that there were going to be moments "amusing for you, embarrassing for us", it seemed to be a case of "surely the other way round, Sue old mate".

So much for cheap jokes: it was actually extremely funny. Funnier than the real thing, in fact. They should scrap the finished article - all that pesky editing - and just show the bloopers.

At midnight on Thursday, Channel 5's scheduled delayed transmission of the Confederations Cup semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia didn't happen, because of the death of Marc-Vivien Foé after he collapsed during the game.

Instead, they repeated the second semi, France v Turkey, which they had already shown live earlier in the evening. But in the intervening six hours or so, they could surely have pulled together some kind of a tribute to a fine footballer.

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