First Person - with Gordon Holmes

Gordon Holmes, Fife Free Press
Gordon Holmes, Fife Free Press

FOR someone who loves sport as much as I do, I have to admit to feeling somewhat apathetic towards the Olympics later this month.

Whether it has been over-hyped to the extent I am now sick of hearing about it, I don’t know, but I’m just underwhelmed by the prospect of the whole global extravaganza the London Games will no doubt be. The event may be happening on the same island but it would be as well being in Outer Mongolia for all the difference it will make to my life.

I have more important responsibilities and demands on my time than travelling hundreds of miles and paying over the top prices to watch unknown competitors taking part in sports I have little interest in.

That’s one of the things my too logical brain just can’t fathom - people who were happy to get tickets to any event whatsoever, just so they can say they have been at the ‘Olympics’.

So there are people I know of who are thrilled because they managed to get tickets for a session of weightlifting or rhythmic gymnastics, who have probably never watched more than five minutes of either before. Maybe it’s just me but it wouldn’t matter if the water polo was in Kirkcaldy pool, or the fencing was at Balwearie High, I still wouldn’t go to watch something that doesn’t interest me.

Mind you, beach volleyball on Pathhead sands might be worth a look...

Cliche

And please, don’t give me the ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ cliche that is constantly being bandied about at the moment as some form of justification for anything remotely connected to the Olympics.

Will I feel my life has a hole if I never attend an Olympic event? Of course not. I’d much rather go to a World Cup football match or an NHL game, but if circumstances dictate it doesn’t happen then so be it.

Pragmatism over romanticism perhaps but I’m quite content to watch whatever action I want from the comfort of my own sofa - small children and sport-hating other half notwithstanding, of course!

And let’s face it - and this will be true of most people, even if they don’t admit it - when it comes to the Olympics, the TV audience wants to watch athletics, maybe swimming, possibly cycling (because GB is good at that at the moment), and there could be added interest in the football due to the ‘Team GB’ angle.

Aside from that, sports like canoeing, volleyball, hockey, judo and so on, have their niche audience which only grows if Britain does particularly well, or if there is some quirky story (usually involving plucky ‘foreigners’ who demonstrate the Olympic spirit by ‘taking part’ even though they are completely rubbish...).

Another big problem I have is the introduction of professional sportsmen in events such as tennis, basketball and bizarrely in 2016, golf.

Altar of profit

It’s not that I’m bothered about upholding the original amateur ethos of the Olympic movement (that was long ago sacrificed on the altar of profit), more that it weakens the unique feel of the whole event when these well-known, well-off athletes compete in what is really just another tournament for them - and get a lot of attention - when those who have worked hard and sacrificed for years to reach this pinnacle of their sporting career, are often overlooked.

But it’s not just the actual sport that has irked me about the Olympic build-up.

From the moment that awful logo was launched, we have had it forced down our throats that this is the greatest thing ever and woe betide anyone who doesn’t agree.

The vague details of the opening ceremony I heard mentioned the use of farm animals, which caught my curiosity for a while, until I heard Paul McCartney was also involved, which switched it right off again.

Then the ‘official’ Olympic 2012 anthem by Muse was revealed last week and if you haven’t heard it, please try to, if only to pay your respects at the grave of a once respected band.

Despite all this, I’m not anti-Olympics, indeed I will definitely watch some of it, and I hope those who do go enjoy it - it just isn’t the be all and end all of my summer.

In fact, on July 28, the first proper day of competition at the Olympics, I will be more interested in what is happening at the opposite end of the country, at Harmsworth Park, Wick where Rovers are playing in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup.

Because sport matters, when it matters...