SPORT has become the life blood of communications, especially traditional television stations.
Its sale via pay-to-view channels is a primary force in shaping fans’ consumption. The sums are astronomical. Discovery paid €1bn to broadcast the Olympics from 2022. National broadcasters, even the BBC, are secondary. RTÉ lost rugby’s Six Nations from 2017. This evolution has empowered saleable superstars too — Rory McIlroy has a “multi-year” deal worth over €200m with US sportswear giant Nike. This is the high- testerone, increasingly remote end of sport but the age-old values that makes sport such a central part of our lives were obvious at Aintree on Saturday.
Tipperary-based trainer Mouse Morris sent the 33/1 Rule The World out to win the Grand National. Owned by Michael O’Leary and riden by teenager David Mullins the win put Morris in a pretty exclusive club — trainers who have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National. He also won the Irish Grand National last month with Rogue Angel.
You would not have to be overly sentimental to recognise that Morris’ great run of success is overshadowed by the death of his son Christoper last year but as any real sports fan knows there’s nothing like success to lift a black cloud, to mend a broken heart. And therein lies sports’ real worth, not the billions spent on TV rights to fill between the ads. It, as Tolstoy told us, acts like a poultice on a wound.
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