Danger, sport may damage your health

Share
Related Topics
I happened to be in London yesterday, trying to find my way back to the country again, when I bumped into my old friend Adrian Wardour- Street, the doyen of British PR. I steered him into an adjacent coffee bar, sat him down with a large black coffee (or an espresso doppio! as he will insist on loudly calling it ) and asked him how things were in the murky world of public relations.

"Don't hear much from Max Clifford these days," I said.

Adrian smiled to himself. "Dear old Max," he said.

It was the tone of voice that PR people use when they are about to put someone down.

"You don't approve of Max Clifford?" I said. "But I distinctly remember Max Clifford before the election saying that he was going to bring the Tory government down. And now they are down. Isn't that an achievement ?"

"Max Clifford is a contradiction in terms," said Adrian, not answering the question directly, as is the wont of PR men. "He is a PR man who is better known than most of his clients. Now, the PR man should always stay in the shadows and never be seen, but dear old Max has not always been totally able to resist the lure of the limelight and goes on TV and radio as often as you like. Max Clifford has, in a sense, become his own client. Unwise, Max."

"And how about you, oh man in the shadows?"

Adrian looked round him and lowered his voice.

"Me? I've got the big news story of the week. Up and running. And never seen my name connected with it once."

"The Michael Howard story?" I said. "I didn't know you were connected with that?"

"That's not a story," said Adrian disgustedly. "That's a long-drawn-out obituary notice. I'm talking about the sports-and-smoking saga."

That made sense. Adrian was always likely to be seen

where the smell of money was, and the news that smoking sponsorship was going to be banned from sporting events had sent waves of worry round the world of sport.

"I take it you are all in favour of sponsorship being retained, and smoking logos being splashed all over the place?" I said.

"Good Lord, no," said Adrian. "I think it's an excellent idea if smoking and sport are separated."

"So you are acting for the sports people in this? You're on the side of health?"

"No, no. I am acting for the tobacco industry."

"Just a mo," I said. "If you are for smoking, then presumably you are also for a connection with sport?"

"Ah!" said Adrian. "That's all old hat now. Our new line is that sport is dangerous, and we in smoking want no more to do with a potential killer like contact sport."

"Hold on," I said. "You're saying that sport is the dangerous one, not smoking?"

"Smoking causes disease," said Adrian. "We all know that. We have as good as admitted it. But what the sports people never tell you is that sport is bad for you too. We have statistics to show that sports people are more prone to injury than non-sports players. And the higher up the sport you go, the worse it gets. Even in non-contact sports like tennis, people are always going out of the game for long periods. Boris Becker's wrist. Agassi's thingy. Steffi Graf's whatsit. Monica Seles's ... "

"Monica Seles was attacked by a madman."

"Yes, but only because she played tennis."

I opened my mouth to object when I started thinking of all the injuries that athletes get, and how long out of the game they are. I thought of Middlesborough and Ravanelli limping off in the Cup Final. I thought of the day that Middlesborough hadn't got 11 fit men to put on a field. I then thought of hamstrings and groin strains and pulled muscles and hairline fractures, and I began to wonder, not for the first time, whether Adrian Wardour-Street might not be on to a winner, even though he was being paid to say it.

"You see?" said Adrian. "So our plan is to take the high moral ground and announce that the tobacco industry no longer wishes to be associated with something as dangerous and anti-social as sport. Many children take up sport through peer pressure, we will say, not knowing that they are hooked on to a risky practice and that in 20 years' time they may be broken- down prop forwards or worn-out fast bowlers. Far safer to stick to fags and booze."

"Do you really mean that?"

"I see a poster," said Adrian dreamily. "It shows poor old Muhammad Ali as he is now. The slogan says: 'Muhammad Ali never smoked'. Think that will get the message across?"

He may have a point.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this multi-ac...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Specialist

£21000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an e...

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: personality is so much more important than policies

John Rentoul
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat