By the time you read this column, I will already be in 2020.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. When this column appears before you, I will already have covered a game in the 2020 season, namely the first match in next year’s Munster senior hurling league, between Tipperary and Clare.
Not enough is being made of this, I think. The GAA’s ability to disregard the laws of time and space and simply say that a game is going on in 2020 despite the evidence of the calendar needs to be celebrated out loud.
Clearly it’s the way forward when it comes to the fixture crunch. In fact, the next obvious step is to play games designated for decision in future years now, when you have a chance.
Granted, there may be issues working out what season is actually being decided. Managers will have to get together after the final whistle to decide what they’ve just won. “Was that the 2024 league final we just won?”
“According to my notes it was the first round of the 2023 championship. Or is it 2032? I have a bit of trouble with my 2s and my 3s.”
On a more serious note, what really intrigues me is that the GAA’s fixture-arranging is being driven by the scriptwriters of a HBO crime series, if you don’t mind me stretching the definition of ‘on a more serious note’ to its fullest stretchability.
You’ll recall that Rust Cohle in the first series of TrueDetective says at one stage, “Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do we will do over and over and over again — forever.”
This sounded pretty odd when Matthew McConaughey was saying it, even a straggle-haired, shook-looking Matthew McConaughey. As any pretentious 16-year-old with access to Wikiquotes will tell you, this is a mangled version of one of Nietzsche’s sayings, though not as well known as one of the German’s favourites: “League is league and championship is championship.”
Settle down at the back.
This bleeding between the years is not new, and the Munster league game played over the weekend isn’t even the first sight of a 2020 game: there’s already been a round of O’Byrne Cup games in Leinster and in previous years the latter stages of December have also been contested ground in terms of the actual year/season it relates to.
But the significant development to this observer is that the GAA may have stumbled across the ideal way to resolve the fixture crisis: to play for future years now, thus freeing up the calendar.
If the time-as-a-flat-circle philosophy could be applied now, for instance, then the 2020 season could account for the next three years: in this way fixtures up to and including those down for the 2022 season could be dealt with in the coming 12 months. How? By simply declaring the contests between January and December next month as valid for the next three seasons: the 2020 All-Ireland champions would be All-Ireland champions for 2021 and 2022 as well.
Everyone wins this way. Tired hacks could cover one game and apply their match reports to the next two seasons also; broadcasting companies would get more of a return for the rights they’ve bought, as would team sponsors; and hard pressed officials could rest happy in the knowledge that all competitions would be run off in time.
Taken a stage further, another three seasons could be run off in 2021, and so on: by 2025 we could have 15 years’ worth of fixtures played and be well ahead of ourselves.
Time is a flat circle, folks. Everything we’ve ever done we’ll do over and over again.
This particular week’s sign of the apocalypse is not Boris Johnson’s victory, which is less sign of the apocalypse and more in-store appearance by Death, Famine, War, and Conquest themselves.
For me, though, the latest realisation that we are living in The Matrix came in a casual comment by a lawyer in an interview about Marriage Story, the hipster Kramer vs Kramer currently featuring on Netflix.
Laura Wasser is a big-shot divorce lawyer in the States, and the website Vulture asked her about the depiction of divorce — and divorce lawyers — in Marriage Story. She meandered interestingly into the laws in California:
“This is the greatest jurisdiction to file in (California) when you are looking for child support.
"I used to have to go speak to the Lakers and then to the Clippers, probably once a quarter or once a year, about not impregnating anybody in the state of California, because then they would have a baby here and they’d be asking for child support here.”
Yes: in addition to being a multimillionaire sports idol, these chaps are advised specifically on where to ... well, this is a family newspaper, so we won’t go much further.
The FAI situation escalated while I was away last week, and I use the term ‘situation’ quite deliberately instead of, say, omnishambles.
I don’t think omni- as a prefix to -shambles quite covers what’s come to light, though it probably serves well enough as a basic introductory term. A gateway description, if you will, leading in time to a fuller, deeper exploration of the mess.
There have been some interesting sideshows involved in the last few weeks, from sundry hacks trying to retrofit themselves as bravely holding the line and questioning the status quo on one hand to the other sporting organisations wiping their foreheads in relief as the spotlight swings away from them. (Though only temporarily in the latter case. Don’t worry.)
Your columnist has been struck by something else in his admittedly non-scientific exit poll conducted among those who share his company: The unwillingness of non-soccer fans to glory in the travails of those devoted to the beautiful game.
This speaks, perhaps, to people’s inherent recognition of what you can slag someone about as opposed to something you know well goes too deep to be weaponised into a gag.
Pulling someone’s leg if they’re a senior FAI apparatchik is one thing, teasing someone who runs an U10 kids’ team because he or she wants them to have the same experience he or she had is something different altogether.
But if you think this is all by way of background to my astonishment at the apparent lack of hot takes on the situation from the likes of Damien Duff and Stephen Kenny, you are 100% correct.
Everyone’s coming out with their end of year booklists, with most contributors falling into the old ‘I’m a serious littérateur’ trap rather than being honest about their choices (Ian Rankin remains the hero in this category with his steadfast championing of Jilly Cooper’s Riders.)
I was delighted to see Shoshana Zuboff’s Age of Surveillance Capitalism feature on a lot of those lists, as did George Packer’s Our Man.
The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson is recommended highly to me by a reader, and I enjoyed Adrian Russell’s The Double for obvious reasons.
Send your top picks to me firstname.lastname@example.org.