Monday, March 03, 2008

Prone to error

Two bad columns in two different newspapers in the space of two days. Terry Prone probably needs two weeks off.

Although her failures regarding Bill Buckley might be understandable, her comments on sports range from the ridiculous to the "cannot be excused".

First the ridiculous. Prone says that televised sports is like pornography.
Now, however, the trend is to stay at home and watch other people doing it. Which is a definition of pornography. But, whereas most pornography is watched in sneaky private, golf and other sports are watched openly.
So, watching an activity on television is pornography? Surely the same argument would hold true for those who watch others garden, cook, trek across the Russian steppes or even discuss politics. Nonsense. None of that is pornography nor is televised sports. It's the content that defines pornography not the fact that people are staying home and watching "other people do it".

Most of her unhappiness seems to be connected to golf, which I've rarely played and don't watch, and rugby, which I've never played and rarely watch. So I can't complain too much, but there's one paragraph that's just out of line.
The sustaining myth of sport, justifying its promiscuous presence, is that it's good for the nation, starting with the kids who are forced out onto fields in winter in their own best interests, the assumption being that they will learn fair play and sportsmanship.
Why do kids have to be "forced out onto fields"? I can't speak for Irish kids in 2008, but I had to be dragged in - no matter the weather - when it came to sports. Baseball in the rain, basketball in snow showers and hockey games played when the temperature was under 10° (that's Fahrenheit, -12° or so on the Celsius scale. I remember one woman yelling at us to put our coats on while playing because it was 8° and there was a stiff breeze. We ignored her.).

Go ahead and knock the over-involved parents that surround today's youth leagues. Too many of them are excessively invested in whether a kids' team wins or loses and others are so worried about injury and aggression that sports are practically being played with balls of cotton and a gentility more befitting an afternoon tea.

Ideally kids should play sports with a minimum of parental involvement. They should give their best, play to win and (at least) be annoyed when they lose. The desire to achieve is what drives achievement. If it doesn't matter if you win or lose why should it matter if you get an "A" or a "D"?

Okay, maybe fair play and sportsmanship are learned more in theory than in fact (I don't know if I believe that), but there's one more lesson learned on the sports field - teamwork. Teamwork is essential in sports and kids do learn that on the ball field far more than they'll learn it through contrived group-work in school.

Maybe Prone wasn't very good at sports when she was a girl or maybe she just had a bad week, but I'm keeping score and she's 0 for 2 in March.