Nightmare of the week? The revelation I stumbled across recently that Motorola is seeking a patent for a lie-detecting throat tattoo.
Apart from the immediate implications (“Your great-grandmother died and you had to attend the funeral in Fuengirola, you say? Why, the Maori design on your Adam’s apple tells me different!”), is this yet another indication of where the world is going?
And what does that mean for sport?
Super-sophisticated technology is an obvious speed bump on the road ahead, and it isn’t always on the road ahead either. Witness recent VAR issues in the Premier League, or come even closer: think on the point allowed in the recent All-Ireland hurling final by HawkEye.
Yet that isn’t the biggest issue that will confront sport going forward.
Neither is another cloud on the horizon, the fluid situation regarding gender in sport.
Another issue that we continue to see popping up in sport is mental health. Many, if not all, sports bodies are now committed to improving participants’ mental health in the broadest possible way. Few sports, however, can manage an essential contradiction — that some of their elite-level participants are not well served mentally by elite-level participation and the accompanying pressures.
It was interesting to read the comments of former rugby pro Kearnan Mayall in the Guardian: “There are several England players I know who dread going into camp. It’s nothing to do with being worried about the physical aspects of training, or the media. It’s a combination of pressure, scrutiny, what’s going to be said and what they’re going to be made to do within the confines of the camp.”
Mayall isn’t alone in his concerns. A lot of these young men are generally unhappy.
How can we reconcile the demand to be strong, to front up, to man up — to win — with the need to be nurturing and aware of people’s fragility?
Still, this isn’t the biggest problem facing sport.
That’s global warming.
I can almost hear you laughing, but wait.
At first glance, something like the GAA-sanctioned water breaks in last summer’s heat may strike you as the obvious harbingers of climate change.
It doesn’t, though. Heading off to a game is the key here, because that can’t last.
It surprises me that as yet there have been no large-scale condemnations of the mass travel of an Olympic Games or a World Cup, and the carbon footprint which results.
But they’re surely coming.
The great boast of organisers that theirs is the event which moves thousands around the globe will not age well. Guaranteed.
It’s only a matter of time before sports bodies start to distance themselves quietly from the ‘you’re only a real fan if you’re there’ narrative.
Again next Sunday there will be thousands of people descending on Croke Park in trains, buses, and shared cars, but the vast drain on resources created by non-essential travel is a key, if uncomfortable, part of climate change.
Can we afford to turn our backs on the prospect of catastrophic damage to the environment for the sake of seeing a game in the flesh? Which sporting organisation is going to swallow hard and encourage followers to stay home rather than travel as spectators? The overarching bend towards TV coverage as the key funding agent for most sports is an interesting sideshow in this regard, as there may come a time when empty venues are indications of ecological maturity. That’s where we are when it comes to the planet, unfortunately.
But don’t worry, next week I’ll revert to making fun of someone’s kicking style.
Grumbles shows Cats likeall the rest I note plenty of mirth in other counties at the ongoing rumbles from Kilkenny about the dismissal of Richie Hogan in the All-Ireland hurling final, and I stress that the mirth is being aimed at the rumbles rather than Hogan.
My admittedly unscientific research suggests the reaction seems founded on a sense of Kilkenny supporters revealing themselves to be much like other supporters.
Quick to anger about perceived slights and injustices, and not at all Olympian in their disdain for the play of emotions stirred among ordinary mortals.
Even a run of success such as that enjoyed in Kilkenny for the last two decades, roughly, has to come to an end at some point. As Kerry citizens who remember the post-1986 period in the Kingdom can advise them, the aftermath to those glory days can be challenging.
Much obliged to the reader who alerted me to a new feature in the New York Times, Overlooked, a series of obituaries which cover black personalities who didn’t figure in the newspaper’s pages when they passed away.
One example: the greatest cyclist of his day, Major Taylor, who overcame prejudice and sabotage to become a champion in the six-day discipline.
Yes, that’s a cycling race that lasts six days.
In itself, this deserves closer inspection, a race that goes on so long participants suffered delusions and hallucinated until organisers limited sessions to 12 hours a day, rather than 24.
In any case, Taylor was the top performer but after an incident in a race which a competitor choked him unconscious, Taylor sensibly moved to Europe, where he became rich and famous in France. Sadly, he died penniless and unknown in 1932.
“To imagine what he went through in the 1890s is unimaginable,” said Edwin Moses. “I could not imagine competing and being a winner with what he put up with.” Yes, that Edwin Moses.
Karl Whitney wrote a fantastic book about Dublin a few years ago — Hidden City — which explored the city in unexpected ways, so it’s no surprise to see his new book is another exploration while also very different.
Hit Factories: A Journey Through The Industrial Cities of British Pop is a pretty self-explanatory title, and his travels around cities in the UK is a terrific read.
Don’t cod yourself: you know these songs as well as me, but it’s the links and connections between the styles and the settings that intrigued me. Thumbs up here.
For SPF 50 and high hurdles, michael.moynihan @examiner.ie
Quirke's Final Preview: Kerry's matchups. The Fenton factor. Walsh wildcard. Gough controversy