Ruby Walsh: Seeking positives and distractions from a big negative

What does the future hold? We never knew anyway but right now, instead of hope and dreams, it most definitely holds fear and worry.
Ruby Walsh: Seeking positives and distractions from a big negative

What does the future hold? We never knew anyway but right now, instead of hope and dreams, it most definitely holds fear and worry.

I have always been a glass-half-full rather than half-empty kind of person and have always believed in finding the positive in every negative.

But, finding a positive here really does require you to look way beyond the Covid-19 virus.

Yes, I was in Cheltenham 15 days ago, to the angst of many, but as I tried then and still do, I have been following the HSE guidelines as closely as I and my family can.

Whether Covid-19 comes through my door or through that of one my friends or family, or any of yours, is only something we can try and keep away but ultimately cannot control.

It’s a pandemic — “prevalent over a whole country or the world”.

That’s the meaning of the word and if you want facts, figures, and a view on what to do next, stop reading my article and go to the news section.

I am not, nor ever will be a world health expert.

I am merely going to look into the future with rose-tinted glasses in an effort to find a positive in the negative.

Racing, as was always going to be the case at some stage, came to a halt on Tuesday, but looking back at the meetings staged behind closed doors, whether you agreed with them or not, they did at least give some people a distraction from their worries for some few small hours.

Realistically, with whatever business or industries that lie behind sport — in racing a whole breeding, pinhooking, and horse care world; in other sports the background jobs created by Nike or Adidas, or even the making of hurleys, the manufacturing of golf clubs, the sale and promotion of all that gear, and relative to all sport, the massive employment from gambling companies and the media — to the majority of people it is only a distraction or interest to take them away from the grind of reality.

You turn on the racing or football to lose yourself from the 6 o’clock news, the paperwork mounting in your office, or the thoughts of another long week ahead.

Sport entertains, like music or films or going for dinner and a drink.

It also entertains with structure.

You know when the Championship starts: August is the return of the Premier League, July is Wimbledon, the Open and the Galway races.

But this year all that structure has been thrown into turmoil like everything else in our world.

The question, though, is ‘for how long?’

Nobody knows that answer, like nobody knows what the cost of human life will be.

But one can guess that a resumption of what we deem to be normality could take a long time and might never be the same again.

That, though, could be a positive.

In the week that it raced behind closed doors, racing showed that sport doesn’t have to take place in packed stadiums or in front of a crowd.

It can be staged and broadcast to whomever wants to watch it and be a distraction from the darkness of reality.

So, looking for a positive, as I set out to do, and being somewhat realistic, here is a rough outline of what could happen in sport.

For me, the National Hunt season is over. I can’t see how in July you can offer ground suitable for winter horses and if you do want a proper run at next season, then having them in training and fit in mid-summer is not conducive to achieving that.

The Flat season could kick off behind closed doors in July and run until mid-December if needs be.

Four of the five Classics would be lost by then but maybe the program could alter to include them first, thus pushing everything else back.

That will be tricky but it’s manageable as this is, after all, a global, not national, scenario.

Each individual Classic in Ireland, England and France could be run one day after the other, setting up great clashes down the road.

A bit far fetched, perhaps, but a thought all the same.

On Game On, on Wednesday night, Pat Spillane explained a plan for how the GAA Championship could be run off in a knockout scenario.

The Premier League could conclude in six weeks from July 1 and start afresh in September.

The League of Ireland, like the PRO14, could have all its teams play twice a week to catch up and finish before taking a break and starting again.

The Open could still be played at an empty Royal St George, and Wimbledon played with just umpires, players and ball collectors.

I would gladly sit at home and watch it all, distracted from the worry of what might be coming in my door, but also not having spent hours travelling to or from any of these events.

I could watch them all minus the atmosphere but still full of intensity and drama.

I could be at home doing the things I imagine a lot of us have forgotten how to do: Having simple fun and using your imagination to create it and then be entertained by great sport.

The longing for the Gooch to score a cracking point or Henry to rifle the ball high into the net just to inspire my kids to try and replicate it in the garden.

I have spent an hour looking for a positive and all I have come up with is dreams from my imagination.

Trivial thoughts, I know that, but I miss the distraction of sport and I hope when the time comes, whenever that may be, that sporting authorities have the imagination to at least try and give us some distraction.

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