Glorious Sport!

 (especially when you are not too invested in the result and can enjoy the match!)

Yesterday I spent the day watching some glorious tennis. In the women’s singles I was leaning towards Ash Barty and was pleased she won but that in no way detracts from the excellent play of her opponent who also played very well

As to the doubles matches there were again entertaining and as the matches progressed I started to lean in a particular direction as I watched the quality of play of the various teams.

Overnight was slightly different as I was invested in Argentina, as I have been at all times since 1978 when watching them play and win the World Cup kept me sane while studying for my finals. (I’m sure my flatmates were not overjoyed at the 2am TV but they were understanding!). Having watched half asleep last night have now reprised the Copa America final safe in the knowledge that the  team I support won but also able to appreciate the skill of both teams. It was an enjoyable experience.

Later I’ll watch the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final. I want Novak Djokovic to win, I think, but the Italian is good and there is linkage between the various events of the day. More of that later. I want Novak to achieve the same number of Grand Slams as Federer & Nadal but I won’t be devastated if he doesn’t do it today. In time he will.

I will be shouting for the 3 Brits in the mixed doubles. We will have a Wimbledon champion (maybe two today). Ditto the wheelchair final  where I watched Gordon Reid lose. But hey we had another Scottish Wimbledon finalist. Total of 4 British Wimbledon finalists and at least one guaranteed champion. Awesome!

Which brings me to the main event of the day. The Euros final. England vs Italy. I will be watching. I will be happy whoever wins provided the game is fair and the best team is victorious. What I will not be doing is listening to TV or radio for several days after. I’ll probably limit my visits to social media too.

Why?

Because the whole press thing is ridiculous. The political game playing is ridiculous and we simply need to grow up.

I remember 1966. Extra time. The nerves. The ‘I can’t watch’. And finally the joy and relief of winning. It was wonderful. England were the best. The team were rewarded and we went back to our usual routines of work and play and school. That England didn’t win anything after is unfortunate but the expectation that they would and the general feeling of entitlement that the Cup should ‘come home’ is a measure of the unhealthy society. The division in the Nations of the UK over a game of football does not do any of us proud. If we are considering entitlement the World Cup should have remained forever in Uruguay – after all they were the first to win it.

Can we remember that this is NOT THE WORLD CUP! It’s the Euros. A competition between the countries of Europe. Not the Americas. Not Asia (although some matches were played in Baku) and not Oceania. It will be an achievement for any country who wins but not THE achievement of being the best in the world. So let’s get a grip.

So I wish both teams well tonight. May the best team win. But a few points.

Would number 10 be pasted with dragons or saltires if the other home teams taking part had got to this stage? Would the event have been the number one report on all the news channels? I don’t think so somehow!

Why have we not heard more about Copa America? The quality of play is good and the final was live on the BBC last night. Do I get the feeling this whole thing is about us (where us of course means English not British) rather than the sport? I do!

To my friends who will support Italy because it’s ‘anything but England’ please support them for the positive reason that they are an excellent team not for negative reasons.

To my friends supporting England out of some idea of purity & nationalism (all rather too common post Brexit) please remember that Gareth Southgate has put together an excellent team of players but that only 3 would qualify if we considered the nationality of their parents or grandparents!

To Gareth. Good job well done. Whatever the result today you have built a great team reflecting the skills and diversity of modern England and whatever the result today you are the most successful England manager for over 50 years! Epic!

To the Italians. I love your country. I love the way you play. I won’t boo your excellent National Anthem. Play well and fairly and I will cheer if you win.

Whoever wins I’ll be toasting you with a glass of Prosecco (and toasting the losing finalists too!).

Play fair, play well and may the best sports team win but let’s keep this in perspective!

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