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

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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform