It is quite rare that I read something and for it to elicit such an emotional response, but when coming across a blog recently accusing the sheer stature of Formula 1 not being considered a sport it was not something I could simply ignore.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines sport as:
An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Let’s just cover this but off first in getting F1 listed as a sport. At some races, namely Malaysia, drivers lose up to three kilograms in body fluids during the race – I think that has physical exertion sorted. The Formula 1 Championship consists of a Drivers and a Constructors championship – so that is the individual and team part sorted. As for entertainment, well…people may differ on that opinion, but I’m very entertained on a Sunday afternoon.
I could stop at this point, but there were far too many other things that riled me.
Now, I’m not going to disagree with Scott Thompson on the winner usually being in the best car. However, if he had actually taken the time to look at the nuances of the 2012 F1 season he would have realised that the Ferrari is in Fernando Alonso’s words, “a dog of a car to drive“. Yet, Alonso leads the championship.
The best way to see how a driver is doing is to look at his teammate – Alonso’s teammate, Felipe Massa is facing an ignominious exit from the team as he languishes in 10th place. Vettel is still a good driver, and Massa isn’t a bad one. Alonso can simply get something out of a car, even when it’s not good – plus the key to success in 2012 is consistency.
I couldn’t help but stifle a laugh at Thompson’s comment on Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal, McLaren Racing) not being nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Erm… he is a businessman, and not a sportsman.
However the one thing Thompson neglects to mention throughout his blog is relating sport to emotion. I wonder how he feels when watching his beloved Tottenham Hotspur play football. All manners of emotion flood through I suspect. Probably similar to how I felt when in 1994, when Damon Hill’s teammate, Ayrton Senna lost his life at Imola and Damon had to lead a team back from the depths of the world and almost take the championship. When he was awarded the BBC SPOTY award for that year, I don’t think anyone thought it was a travesty. Clearly Scott Thompson disagrees.
Now, I don’t want to completely disagree with the points Thompson brings up – technology and sport is a dangerous mix and it does need to be controlled, otherwise it is very much the automated steroids equivalent, and can be taken out of control. But to say Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton et al owe their “precious metal” to technology is bullshit. Each sport at the Olympics is governed by their own independent sporting bodies which state the rules and regulations within each. Much like the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA, Formula One’s governing body). Everybody works to within the rules set – I doubt Team GB are the only well funded team in the world of indoor cycling. We are simply that good. Don’t take anything away from the athletes, it’s the governing bodies that may detract from the pure abilities – however if we were watching indoor cycling and they had BMX bikes from your local shop, you’d be thinking, “really??!”
My conclusion is that in a world where so much money and interest is invested in sports, technology has to be embraced to ensure it is fair. It amazes me that in the whole of Scott Thompson’s blog he does not mention football once. What does he feel about goal-line technology being introduced? Long overdue in my opinion, but perhaps he sits with Sepp Blatter’s stance on that – he should, as Blatter is so reluctant to bring tech to football. Look at rugby, it has embraced tech in the eyes of the forth official and hawk-eye in tennis now adds a great new element to the sport.
The pure talent of sport should never be taken away, and going back to F1, driver aids are very limited. But F1 is a sport, as is show jumping, horse racing, diving and rhythmic gymnastics.
Football on the other hand, isn’t the winner the one with the richest owner?