You’ve seen it and worried about it and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. Last weekend Gerald Fleming fronted an RTÉ documentary on climate change which offered some catastrophic prospects, such as cities flooding. He explained to me that there may be other changes involved for sports fans:
“In GAA terms I know there’s some break in the winter months for football and hurling, but even that may have to be extended further. There have been a few occasions recently when the schedule’s been upended by severe weather.
“Then take a sport like horseracing, where the going for horses is so critical. If it becomes more and more common for the going to be very soft during the winter, that could have an impact on the sport.
“I’m not that well up on horseracing but if the conditions tend to get softer and softer that might mean trainers and owners starting to use horses which are suited to that going.”
Fleming agreed that solo adventure sports like surfing and hiking may also have to change.
“With those there can be an element of challenge, or even danger, when some people go out to engage in those sports to test themselves. Which is fine if they’re able for that challenge, if it’s in a proper environment with plenty of support and if they know what they’re about.
“Surfing has become a very big deal off the west coast in particular. That could continue to become a growth area if the seas get stormier, with more people coming to surf — sometimes you get a particular kind of person going out when the conditions are particularly challenging — but if seas get very stormy, and remain stormy, more safety precautions may be needed.”
What may also “become a bigger and bigger deal” is following your team.
“Air transport has been historically cheap in the last couple of decades,” said Fleming. “But I can’t see that lasting unless the authorities work on options like electrical aircraft. In terms of not making journeys unless you really have to . . . following your team to Europe for a game probably doesn’t fall into the realm of ‘trips you really have to make’. That may have to change.”
In the TV show we saw what might happen if Cork and Dublin flooded. Not good news for sports facilities near rivers.
“That’s true, though having playing fields beside rivers is often a good place for them. If they get flooded a couple of times a year it’s not the end of the world — it’s not like a house or a premises being flooded, so it’s a good use of the space because that space can’t be used for another purpose.
“Matches may have to be postponed occasionally because of flooding, but in real terms it’s a trade-off that may be worth making as long as you can accept that having a playing field beside a river which floods occasionally has a built-in risk.”
Remove if you can the image of a new stadium underwater and broaden your horizons. Fleming feels people are doing so already: “It seems to be much higher in people’s consciousness which is a good thing. And it’s necessary, because there’s no getting away from this, it’s not a situation that’s going to get any better. We have to accept what’s happening and adapt our strategies accordingly.”
I know people don’t like real life intruding in this corner of their morning, but it’s unavoidable. And if a drowned stadium makes it all the more real for you, so be it.
T'is the season for marketing folly
A non-pointed question. Why are sports-themed Christmas presents so naff?
I had a quick trawl on the interweb the other evening to see if there was anything that Santa might be dropping off and I ended up blowing my cheeks out a little more than usual. I pay tribute to baseball for its MLB Game Used Baseball Bat Bottle Openers (€104), on the grounds that at least it’s useful. Kind of.
Contrast this with a personal favourite from last Christmas, a Bournemouth FC storage box, which is a . . . wooden box with a Bournemouth crest. It costs £20.
There is of course a whole other level of hell inhabited by beauties such as the Manchester City 4 Piece Wooden Grooming Set, which for some reason was available for €15 last week (down from €45), but perusing options here can become a rabbit-hole, so avoid if you can.
If anyone wants direction feel free to contact me; for a small consideration I will advise you on the bespoke Christmas sports gift Santa won’t be ashamed to deliver.
Delving into the Saracens scandal
I must confess that the Saracens financial scandal is holding my attention, for all sorts of reasons.
If you’re not tracking it that closely, the Premiership champions were fined £5 million and face a loss of 36 points for breaking the salary cap rules, though they plan to appeal. What interests me is that the breaches of the rules weren’t for anything as obvious as simply paying the players too much money.
Club owner Nigel Wray apparently backed some of his player’s businesses: England captain Owen Farrell is a joint shareholder of a financial services firm, Faz Investments, with Wray. Richard Wigglesworth is a joint shareholder in another company, Wiggy9, with Wray. The Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, are joint shareholders in another company, VunProp Limited, with Wray.
You get the picture. I can’t help but cast my gaze across our own fair land and wonder if there is anything similar going on which resembles this carry-on.
Surely nothing as sophisticated as Saracens’ schemes, a suspicion borne out by the tale swirling about over the weekend about an Irish sports team which was quietly suspended recently for offering cash inducements to prospective recruits. If you’re wondering why you didn’t hear much about it, the team involved consisted of 14-year-old girls. More on this as I get it.