Success versus winning in sport

I have been meaning to write about the sporting concept of “winning” for a while. However, as I tried to establish some concrete approach to this, “a unified theory of winning things” if you will, it became clear that instead of winning I was actually thinking about “success”.

Winning is often beyond us, whereas Success is always a possibility. My father is a good example of this. A fierce competitor, in his youth (and beyond his youth) he played football and developed a reputation as a determined and tricky winger, relentlessly pressuring the opposing full-backs. He played until his early forties when his body told him that getting slide tackled a few dozen times every Sunday was no longer sensible. So he took up tennis and for the next 40 years he cultivated a reputation at club level as a dogged baseliner, chasing down balls that many younger men would leave. Now in his 80s, tennis is beyond him. However, even now, at his local senior pitch-and-putt club events, he is there to win, if he can. He’s even been known to instigate the odd steward’s enquiry if he loses. Success for my father involves competing as hard as he can for as long as he can.

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 October 2014 15:57 )

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Sochi Winter Olympics.

With the Winter Olympics looming up in the calendar, I’ve been trying to sort out some contradictory thoughts on Russia. It’s not easy. But there again, it never was. Pre 1914 there is a rough consensus that Russia was an imperial power with an autocratic feudal system of government governing over a vast, backward hinterland but with a rapidly expanding capitalist economy in the metropolitan centres of Moscow and St Petersburg. Then came two revolutions right on top of each other. Things got really messy then.  A war-mongering liberal democratic government quickly being supplanted by a Marxist revolutionary government. But was it Marxist? Yes, if you adhere to the Leninist version of Marxism but no, if you regard, as some theorists do, that November 1917 was more of a putsch rather than a genuine socialist advance. ‘You can’t cheat history’, argued some classical Marxists. ‘Every major nation must pass through a capitalist phase of history and it would be impossible to build socialism on the foundations of Russian economic and cultural backwardness’. The Leninist faction vehemently disagreed and for a while, roughly seventy years, they held sway.

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Chelsea and AVB: The Wrong Project

Andre Villas-Boas, freshly departed Chelsea manager, kept repeating, like a religious mantra, that he was working on a project and needed more time. To be very cynical I suspect his real project was not so much to revamp an aging Chelsea side, but to model himself as the next Jose Mourinho, complete with multi-million pound sponsorship deals and a host of top football clubs tripping over themselves for the services of the Special One Mark Two. If football was his real passion why not stay at Porto and create a whole new era of Portuguese footballing success rather than just one fruitful season?

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Channel 4 Dispatches: How to buy a Football Club 18/7/11

A few months ago Matthew Syed was waxing lyrical in The Times about football being the ‘beautiful game’. I wasn’t convinced then and I’m even less convinced now having watched Channel 4’s Dispatches which outlined the shadowy world of shady businessmen buying and selling English football clubs in order to make a quick buck, often asset stripping the club in the process. One of the key protagonists in this sordid tale was a certain Mr Bryan Robson of Man United fame, who at least was honest enough to admit that football was no longer a game but purely a business. And what a dirty business at that. Coming close on the heals of the FIFA corruption exposures, how Mr Syed can still romanticise about the ‘beautiful game’ beggars belief. Still he is employed by a certain Mr Murdoch, sponsor of Sky TV’s English Premier League, so I guess it pays to keep up the pretence if you want to keep in with the boss.

Last Updated ( Monday, 29 October 2012 12:39 )

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The Murdoch Empire Knows No Bounds

The one feature that unites all recent commentary on Rupert Murdoch’s audacious bid to completely buy out BSkyB TV is that such a move would give one man a disproportionate control over Britain’s media. In this respect they are all barking up the wrong tree. Rupert Murdoch and his international News Corporation already have a massively undemocratic control over British affairs and I’m not just talking about sport. Whether he succeeds in buying the remaining part of Sky that he does not already own is largely immaterial to his already massive, unaccountable, undemocratic influence over British politics. Yes, the proposed buyout will be a bad thing for what passes for British democracy, a wafer thin phenomena at the best of times. Yes, a Murdoch total buyout of Sky will place Murdoch in a similar position to that of Berlusconi in Italy. And yes, with total control of Sky, Murdoch will be able to further manipulate our TV viewing habits by linking his press and TV interests even more closely. But the unpalatable truth is that he can and does do all of this and much more already. Journalists are at least ten years late in their Armageddon style articles. The beast is already here.

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