Andy Murray sliding for a fall. Source: Electronic Telegraph.
Too much sport is never enough
Here we are in Belfast with the Irish Open golf at Portrush, the semi-final of the Ulster football between Donegal and Tyrone, while Andy Murray has just squeaked out of a third round match at Wimbledon and Italy and Spain gear up for the final of Euro 2012. Too much sport? I don’t think so.
I’ve been at a conference on sport, race, ethnicity and globalisation and it has been interesting to see the ways in which people from a whole range of countries link sport to social changes in their respective societies or the ones they are studying. Many of my Australian colleagues have been addressing the success or otherwise of attempts to eliminate discrimination against indigenous people in sport. A couple of Scottish academics tried to tease out what was happening in the debate over sectarianism in my native country. Is football the cause or just one of the symptoms of the divisions in Scottish society? There were many other issues discussed but the common thread was the interactions between sport and other areas of social, economic and political life. If there was some disappointment about the debates and the approaches it was that there was too little awareness that so many of the issues discussed were occurring in a range of countries. So comparisons rather than treating issues in isolation seemed the best hope of greater understanding.
It was a relief to get back to the sport tonight, to see Jamie Donaldson from Wales take a one-shot lead at the end of the third round of the Irish Open golf. Donegal, the holders, just managed to hang on to beat Tyrone in the Ulster football semi-final at Clones. The score was 0-12 to 0-10 between these great rivals. Tyrone were trailing by three points and had a chance to score a goal late in the game which would have resulted in a replay, but keeper Paul Durcan saved the day for Donegal. Donegal will meet County Down in the final on 22 July.
There was a bizarre night at Wimbledon when the hope of a local victory in the men’s singles rested on Andy Murray who was up against Marcos Baghdatis. Murray was in control a set and break up, but then imploded as his opponent won the second set. Then they stopped for half an hour while the roof was closed. This was supposed to allow play to proceed when it was raining or had grown dark outside. But the local authority had decreed that play must cease at 11 pm so there was a possibility that the match would have to be suspended when that time was reached. As it happened Murray won the third set and took a five-one lead in the fourth when the clock ticked over to 11 pm. There would probably have been a riot in the stadium had the match been terminated at that point. Luckily Murray played one of his best games of the three and half hour match to win the fourth set.
Tomorrow Spain and Italy face off in the final of Euro 2012 in Kiev. Having surprised Germany thanks to two brilliant goals from Mario Balotelli, Italy are on a roll. Spain remain the favourites but their hold on the crown is threatened. That well-known Spanish philosopher, Sergio Ramos, the man who dropped the Copa del Rey and missed a penalty against Bayern Munich, was quoted as saying about the penalty he missed. ‘It was just an anecdote’. It did not prevent him from doing a Pirlo with a chip over the keeper to help Spain to victory over the Portuguese. Portugal, strangely, kept Christiano Ronaldo back to take the last penalty and of course that turned out to be unnecessary since Fabregas had already scored the decisive one.