River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Let's have some fair play

July 2002

It's just not cricket

I have noticed a very disturbing trend creeping into sport in the recent years. I think that it is mainly due to competitors being very highly paid and, in consequence, becoming self-important and arrogant. Spectators have become an expectation that they deserve and have every right to expect.

Wrong! I will cite three instances this May where the worm may at last be beginning to turn. Firstly, Ferrari's decision to instruct Michael Schumacher to win the Austrian Grand Prix at the expense of the real "winner", Reubens Barrichello. The viewing public certainly gave their reaction at being cheated and yet Ferrari's project manager said that they would continue to do what they thought was right for them and the crowd can "go fly a kite."

Secondly, there was the spectacle of an under-prepared Naseem Hamed giving a very poor display in defending his boxing title, so much so, that people walked out in their droves. Hamed's reaction? He swore at the crowd and belittled them.

Finally, of all sports, cricket. England had played most grittily to save the first Test against Sri Lanka. Having finally got over 200 runs ahead on the final day and in a position where it was virtually impossible to lose, they continued to bat, and very unattractively at that. After a while, the spectators broke into boos and whistles which had no effect. With about 45 minutes to go, England farcically declared and Sri Lanka batted out time totally meaninglessly.

The message must be sent out to sportsmen (and women) and those that control their sports that they cannot treat the public with contempt. Without the paying public's support, they will have nothing. All we want is value for money, let's face it, admission prices are high enough.

Graham Forster

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