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The Alphabet of Sport

Michael Oliver



An interesting idea clobbered me in the face like a mallet last week: Is it possible for the world’s sporting scene to be summarised in a gimmicky article highlighted in alphabetical order? Brash be the writer who contemplates such lunacy, but with such canon of sporting highlights to choose from it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Consider me brash, but not the balding, Singaporeanmarrying- leader-of-the-opposition kind.
Disaster struck the hard-boiled ne’er-dowells at the Manawatu Turbos this week when they were fined $3500 for fielding an illegible player during their first round Air New Zealand Cup match against Auckland. Eagle-eyed scouts from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union discovered that foreign import Aiden Nichols had not obtained the necessary international clearance needed to play for the struggling premier division newcomers after a short stint in England. Fans were perturbed to learn that the illegibility was due to a minor technicality, and not because Mr. Nichols exceeded the Turbos lucid ‘quality’ quota, (the results, unfortunately, lay siege to that).
Gold was the colour of choice for New Zealand’s ever prosperous Rowing community when Lake Karapiro was officially confirmed as the site for the 2010 World Rowing Championships. Happy in the ethereal glow of this success, Rowing New Zealand also found itself basking in the glory of a number of results at this year’s championship. In successfully defending his previous title, Mahe Drysdale pulled through uncharted waters to set a new World Championship record in the Men’s Single race. Jaded, however, was the mood of the perennial darlings of the New Zealand Rowing scene, the Evers- Swindell twins, who could only manage a disappointing third in their signature event. “Kicked in the head and then pinched on the arse!” are probably the words I would have used to describe the result, but the rational, “This is sport” response from Georgina Evers-Swindell works too.
Lady Luck smiled down through the rain on New York’s Flushing Meadows as hometown hero, eight-time grand slam winner and one-time husband of Brooke Sheilds, one Andre Agassi, traipsed through an epic five-set encounter to make it through to the second round of the US Tennis Open. Much has been written on the icon’s upcoming retirement, but the furious pens of reporters will have to anxiously wait (maybe) another round before celebrating the career of a true sporting legend. Needless to say Agassi, (who remembers a time where the only thing the press celebrated was his hair), will go down the star of the tournament regardless of where he lays his racquet down. Obsessive be the press’ longing for a fairytale-finish, but the fairytale may indeed be the eight-grand slams and the career that proceeded this year’s US Open.
Perhaps the most bizarre display of bi-polarism in sport came last week from World Golfing #1 (and full-time layer of a blonde supermodel), Tiger Woods, when he magnificently sliced a shot from the rough through the calm summer’s air, over a sprawling section of oak trees, past the commentator’s box annnnnd….onto the members’ building, Querying as to whether he, Tiger Woods, full-time layer of a blonde supermodel, should be subjected to the demeaning option of taking a mulligan, Woods was instead awarded a free drop shot from an angle proportionate to the member’s building. Ridiculous as this sounds, Woods then went on to make a bogey on the hole and still managed to take the overall lead in the tournament. Seriously, if the worst thing that can happen to a man after a mishap like that is that he has to find solace in the bosom of a blonde Swedish supermodel, then one need not fear judgement; There’s no possible way that heaven is better than that.
United in their hatred for a cricketing figure whose surname doesn’t end in “Tendulker,” the Pakistani Cricket Board this week called for an investigation against Australian Umpire Darrell Hair. Venom spewed forth from the Pakistani test side’s changing room last week when they learned that Hair had forfeited the fourth Test between them and England after believing the match ball had been tampered with. With the tumultuous turmoil that seems to never be too far away from any subcontinent cricket side, one may be inclined to give the servant of the game, Mr. Hair, the benefit of the doubt, but the reluctance of the ICC to unanimously deal with such controversies in the past suggests that this too will be discreetly swept away through the covers, in spite of Pakistan’s insistence that they were unjustly demonised. Xenophobia is nothing if not rife in the gentlemen’s game.
You know, even with an entire alphabet at my disposal, I feel as if I’ve barely covered enough sport this week. Zany, eh?