Why don't we do it this way?

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The Independent Online
SUMER is acumen in, as Geoffrey Boycott once said. As usual, though, the first snatches of warmth and sunlight to alight on poor frozen Britain have turned people's minds. Some pedestrians have been spotted in shirtsleeves while others have been sighted playing on-drives with rolled-up newspapers.

But a more extreme case of premature sunstroke seems to have affected the rugby league authorities. For, after some seconds' thought, these sage and indeed, onion officials have decided that the professional game is being played at the wrong time of year. In future, they suggest, the rugby league season should run from March to October, through that entertaining period of the year that satirists have always referred to as 'the British summer'.

It's a revolutionary notion - 'revolutionary' being a convenient euphemism for 'barmy'. But hold on - could they have a point? Why is it that certain sports are only played at certain times of the year? Is there any reason why they shouldn't be played at other times? Could this be the answer to all rugby league's problems?

Indeed, if acted upon, this change could be the greatest upheaval in British sporting seasons since it last snowed in June. After all, rugby league is primarily played in the north of England, and summer there is like daylight in Lapland - brief and a bit of a disappointment. To exchange winter (solid rain, occasionally interrupted by the odd snowdrift) for summer (solid rain, occasionally interrupted by location shooting of Seaside Special at Skegness) must certainly be worth considering.

And one sport having done it, others can only follow. Football, for instance, is severely limited by its season, which runs from the first week in August to the last week in July. Why not start the season at the beginning of January, and take it up to the end of December? That would make more sense.

Cricket, meanwhile, has suffered a series of inordinately wet and gloomy summers, while every winter for years has been remarkably dry. With the season starting earlier and earlier, few cricketers can feel their lower limbs before July, and before you know it September is here and winter has set in. But has it? Every year, the two weeks after the season ends are bathed in glorious sunshine, and everyone asks why there are no fixtures for this period. But perhaps there should be. For I'd suggest that a cricket season running from October to March could make all the difference to England's Test performances. If India or the West Indies think it's cold in the summer, they should try batting at Lord's in January. Innings victories every time, I'd say.

There are other sports that could benefit from changed seasons. There's nothing wrong with American Football that couldn't be cured by a season starting on 1 October, and ending on 2 October. And watching golf on television is far more enjoyable in the winter. You're inside, warm and cosy, and they're out there in sou'westers and anoraks, trying to stay alive. Much more fun than all those sun-drenched shots of Augusta, with everyone so obviously enjoying themselves.

For some sports, though, the season's timing and duration are sacrosanct, and could no more be altered than the moon's orbit around the earth. Come early December, all sportsmen think but a single thought. 'For now,' they cry in unison, echoing the refrain of generations past, 'for now is the time for darts.'

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