Tuesday 20 August 2019

When sporting aims don't hit the Bullseye

Weird Wide World of Sport

Jack Savage of Kerry is challenged by Brendan Harrison of Mayo. The sides served up a decent All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday
Jack Savage of Kerry is challenged by Brendan Harrison of Mayo. The sides served up a decent All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday

Dave Devereux

I treated the young lad to his first taste of the classic British gameshow 'Bullseye' on Sunday evening.

It wasn't long before, like his auld fella, he was worshipping at the altar of Jim Bowen and the peculiar Lakeside meets Mastermind experience.

The mash-up of darts and general knowedge is an admittedly weird, but enthralling, watch for myself, so lord only knows what it looks like through the eyes of a five-year-old.

You can't beat the thrill of seeing contestants with moustaches Magnum P.I. would be proud of (and that's just the women) 'gambling' a plethora of tacky prizes to take a shot at landing the big one that's hidden behind the promise of an alluring screen.

Most of the treasure that they stake probably look like artefacts that should be gathering dust in a museum to the whippersnapper, far-flung oddities like a television that's heavier than a barrel of blocks, a wonderful walkman that you'd struggle to fit in a suitcase, or a terrific teasmade that will brighten up your mornings with a refreshing brew.

And then after the almost unbearable tension it's either a massive congratulations as some couple from a council estate in Grimsby win a speedboat or a 'let's look what you would have won' when the screen is lifted to reveal a brand spanking new mini that awaits two 20-stone beer-bellied blokes from Burton.

How could the young lad not be an instant fan?

Anyway, one of the more interesting segments of the show for nostalgic old sods like myself is when they dragged on a professional darts player to win a welcome few quid for charity.

The experienced players were given nine darts to throw for a worthy cause of the contestant's choice and if they scored 301 or more the donation would be doubled.

In the two episodes myself and the chisler watched, Alan Warriner and Bob Anderson stepped up to the oche, but neither of them amazed with their arrow throwing, both finishing up around the 200-point mark.

I realise it's a small number of throws to expect a player to get into their stride, but you'd have to imagine that if such a show existed today the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor or Peter Wright would comfortably break the 301-point barrier.

Obviously standards in the game have improved at a rate of knots, with the soon to be retired Taylor the driving force behind the elevation of the sport to new heights.

The same is true of more active sports, with larger emphasis on correct training methods, diet and lifestyle increasing what players are capable of in soccer, rugby and G.A.A., just to mention a few.

Unfortunately, the move forward to modern methods isn't always a positive thing, with an overkill of negative tactics slowly sucking the lifeblood out of Gaelic football to such a degree that more often than not you know it's not worth switching on.

At least when I tuned into the Kerry versus Mayo semi-final on Sunday I was confident that, in the main, it would be played in the right manner.

It turned out to be a decent, pulsating encounter, far from the perfect game of football but much better than most of the turgid fare that we've witnessed this season.

It certainly provided enough moments of skill and talking points to leave everyone wanting more and the replay should be another game to savour.

The hurling championship has served up far more thrills this year and an All-Ireland final pairing that few would have predicted at the outset is testament to that, but it's had it's dull moments too despite the over-romanticised view of the game.

Rugby is another sport that you could argue has taken a backward step due to progress.

The over-emphasis on physicality has robbed some of the beauty from the game and it's easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses to the days of David Campese and his ilk.

It's hard to argue against the obvious increase in standards in soccer in comparison to the good old days of two points for a win, muddy pitches and barmy post-match boozing sessions, but the spectacle hasn't necessarily improved as a result.

The one thing that's seriously lacking is loyalty and real passion. The beautiful game has been infiltrated by money men and cash, not club, is now king.

A player can kiss the crest of their jersey as many times as they like but they're not fooling anyone.

If you waved a wad of cash in front of their face they'd be gone quicker than a Bullseye contestant's hopes would be dashed when they see the 'star' prize slip through their fingers.

Wexford People

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