Another turbulent week, yet there’s a sense too we are on the cusp of a great breakthrough, of landmark progress. There is a mood for change.
With VAR installed, and Kelechi Iheanacho awarded a goal by the machines, we must seize the moment. We cannot afford to take a step back now in the drive for a utopia of engineered fairness and accountability.
We cannot settle for penalty box justice. Offside might be sorted, but we must demand full transparency away from the field of play too. We urgently need to see every single thing from all angles. We cannot waste this momentum in the war on ‘controvassy’.
The big idea dawned watching an Instagram video of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard try out a new ‘handshake’ after Manchester United training this week, in a display of industrial strength bantz.
This after Mesut Ozil’s Twitter feed had disgorged footage of the midfield powerhouse managing four pull-ups in the gym, underlining his commitment to the Arsenal cause.
Push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. pic.twitter.com/xdW5y6VVxN— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) January 18, 2018
At once, the solution to clear up more or less all our outrages was blindingly obvious. All these guys should be on camera all the time. And we must be able to pass judgment on their every waking moment.
To get the ball rolling on full transparency, American writer Dave Eggers actually had the big idea first, for his 2013 novel The Circle, adapted for last year’s poorly-received movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.
In Eggers’ only slightly dystopian world, ruled by social media approval, politicians assert their incorruptibility by wearing cameras 24/7, broadcasting their lives for open judgment.
The motto is: “All that happens must be known.”
It’s hard to see it taking off among the real world politicians, with the lack of anything compelling to show as likely a deterrent as the existence of something to hide.
But in an environment such as sport, with real impact on our everyday lives, this is now a must. Every known issue can be solved instantly.
The doping problem — gone. Round-the-clock surveillance of everything an athlete ingests can replace testing altogether. And if you want a TUE or inhaler, convince us by coughing all day.
Match-fixing, bribery, irregular betting patterns — all taken care of.
Our always-on moral watchdog will ensure there is no more tapping up, no illegal approaches.
Have any concerns whether your international manager is fully committed to the nation? Don’t wait for a hostage-style video from your association, check if he’s at home scouring footage of granny-rule prospects, or out dining with Premier League chairmen.
Fear your star man’s attitude has split the dressing room? You’ll no longer have to psychoanalyse goal celebrations or wait for the post-match selfies to be socialised.
Not sure if a project player South African is Irish enough? Track him by the pool in summer to see if he asks fellow holiday-makers ‘what county man are you?’
Sceptical whether an inter-county player really got into primary school teaching for the right reasons? Tune in every morning to see how his junior infants are grasping Jolly Phonics.
All the burning issues can be put to bed, even if players (and playas) are allowed scramble their feeds at bedtime for a little privacy. Though the other motto in The Circle was ‘privacy is theft’.
Would there be resistance to LifeVAR? Who cares? We cannot stand in the way of progress.
In any case, the likes of Pogs and Lings will surely welcome extended screentime for their stylings.
As for the inter-county lads, already willing to give up work, life, love and whatever else, just file this too under The Sacrifices and The Demands.
All that’s left to be decided is who should do the monitoring. Have we the manpower to put LifeVAR in place for every single athlete?
There may be no need. We are moving away anyway from the quaint old-fashioned concepts that have failed us; things like a justice system and due process.
Why not simply let social media opinion decide if a player has brought the game into disrepute? Outrage can be our guide. If footage of an offence trends, the athlete is banned.
If we do want to appoint an expert panel of officials to adjudicate on certain transgressions, clearly safeguards must be put in place.
We are already seeing, with football, how the ability to watch everything, from every angle, is no guarantee an official will see what Alan Shearer sees.
So at all times a second LifeVAR should observe the appointed LifeVAR, to be sure to be sure. An outrage safety valve.
We will certainly need an overarching ethics committee too, to adjudicate on those grey areas that humble rules and regulations can’t adequately police. To ensure we are on brand.
Say an athlete has already served a suspension, but we are not certain he is sorry enough, or whether he has learned his lesson.
The sporting guardians, sitting weekly on high moral ground, will make those big calls.
Need you ask who should sit on that panel?
Only one minor snag: will journalists still exist, with so little controvassy left to talk about?
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved