God, the sport just keeps on coming, doesn’t it? A friend the other day posted to a WhatsApp group: “England played and won a rugby game today, a fact I have only just discovered”. Amid the French Open, international football, drug stories, Mourinho and GP, there it was: England beating Wales, scoring five tries in the process. Did you miss it? I did.
Is there too much sport? There have always been four golf majors, four tennis slam events, and one FA Cup. But now there are 21 F1 GPs, a move to expand the Champion’s League, more cricket, more golf and tennis events packaged as premium. Rugby summer tours; football summer tours. Cricket all year. Athletics World Championships every two years. It’s exhausting.
Ironically, the Americans seem to be the only nation to keep things in check. The NFL? 16 game season since the 70s. NBA? The 82-game schedule has been around for ages, as has the MLB 162 games. Where’s the fixture inflation there? Although to be fair, that’s quite a lot already.
Sometimes, less is more. Let’s just hope the Euros, Olympics and World Cup stick at the 4-year cycle. Otherwise our heads will explode.
So to the choice items of the week. Accept no other substitutes.
This is a sport that is become so varied as to become absurd. Alastair Cook’s milestone of 10,000 Test runs underlines his status as one of the greats of the game, but as Tom Fordyce points out, it’s in a format and style that seems utterly at odds with the modern batsman. Men such as Virat Kohli, who is redefining what is possible in T20, and David Warner who seems to defy risk.
Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Andy Bull gives a fascinating insight into Cook’s friendship with James Anderson, one that didn’t start so well but has evolved into a tight combination as they have become bedrocks of the team.
A tale of two Madrids. Vice looks at Real’s president Perez, a man who promised the impossible to secure his place at the club, and has since delivered a marketing machine. The Economist Game Theory looks at Atletico, the club that is always the poorer cousin but through streetsmarts and financial discipline has challenged the top order in Spain.
The Champions League has always existed to service the so-called big clubs of Europe. Now, it seems shock domestic results like Leicester or Atletico are prompting further changes, to keep the rich even richer. The FT has the run-down (£). The BBC also has a reminder of the game that prompted the whole group stage, multiple-club thing off: Juve vs Real in 1986.
Is José Mourinho a guarantee of success at Manchester United? Everyone seems to think so, but actually, as Jonathan Wilson points out, “the history of English football suggests the most surefire way of failing to win the league is to appoint somebody who has won it before.”
Here’s a good question (via Bleacher Report): will Serena Williams find another worthy rival before she retires?
How important is golf to the Olympics? We might find out, as right now, the Olympics doesn’t seem very important to golf.
A quick reminder of the greatness of Jim Thorpe, via the Cauldron.
How did that happen? The Golden State Warriors were 3-1 down in a four game series, but still won.
Following on, the NY Times thought that the Warriors were done for – and ran a fascinating listicle of shock losses in many sports. And yet…
That’s it – see you next week