Why game-show celebrations devalue our sportsmen

WHEN EDITING with distinction the sports section of a serious Sunday newspaper a friend in this unholy trade made it a hard-and-fast rule that acts of celebration were never to be pictured on his pages.

One reason for this laudable prejudice was to ensure that his photographers didn't take the easy option. Another, the most important, was a personal irritation with a trend arising from the rapid development of sport on television. Perhaps this fellow should have formed a Brotherhood, one with a single purpose, a sentimental one. One that would exist only to help keep decorum alive in sport, to preserve some meaning in the word in an age when sentimental labels are widely regarded as "square", or whatever from today's idiom has overtaken that description.

It seems that scarcely anybody today clings to the principle that sports performers can enjoy their triumphs without behaving in the demented manner of successful contestants on television game shows. We had, not so long ago, a prime example of this when the BBC put out gleefully a montage of theatrical celebrations. "And why not," the programme's suave presenter Desmond Lynam said.

The football authorities have since acted to curb obviously choreographed excesses but my immediate thought at the time of Lynam's foolish indulgence was that if the players spent as much time on improving technique they might find it easier to justify salaries which in many cases are out of proportion to ability.

One thing leads to another. Last week, during the school holidays, I stood with the youngest of my grandsons watching a pick-up game between boys of between eight and 10 years old, all kitted out in the colours of Premiership clubs. Only one or two revealed any natural gifts but they all knew how to celebrate.

You only have to ponder this for a moment to infer what it implies; an attitude to sport so influenced by television hyperbole, so distorted by the quest for ratings and circulation, that it has become almost impossible to sustain seemly standards of deportment.

All too often these days sports performers are made less by carnival acts of vulgarity. You see it when goals and tries are scored, when wickets fall, when decisions are announced in the ring. It is even creeping into golf.

People who go around saying that Tiger Woods is the most accomplished and exciting golfer presently at work in the game are right. Like anybody else, Woods relishes personal success and takes a pleasure in the tributes that past luminaries pay to him.

However, last week, and not for the first time, Woods offended the code on which golf was founded. When winning the Memorial at Muirfield Village in Ohio, going head to head with Vijay Singh in the final round, Wood's short game was something to behold, as fine an exhibition of saving shots as any of the commentators, including Jack Nicklaus, could remember. Trouble was that Woods could not contain himself after sinking a difficult downhill putt that prevented Singh from drawing level. If a vital blow, it didn't justify the triumphalism evident in pugnacious gestures.

Unfortunately, one of the burning questions today is whether sports fans are offended by such behaviour. Are they so conditioned to excess that the old traditions are no longer thought to be relevant?

Doubtless there are people who will argue that the importance of decorum in sport, if it has any importance at all, has been widely exaggerated. Some represent television and radio companies, others are responsible for bringing out sports pages. The philosophy they share is that comportment unbefitting to an athlete makes for livelier news.

Nothing, to my mind, illustrates the old ways better than video images of Sugar Ray Robinson, who is considered to be the most complete champion in boxing history. In victory or defeat - and he didn't lose many - Robinson simply raised one hand and bowed to the audience. God bless him, he didn't know any other way.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?