Sport must remember its place at times of real horror


Imagine the tone of the rage being the same for a batting collapse as it is for more than 30 innocents being blown up. Well, actually do not bother trying to imagine – simply read Piers Morgan’s Twitter account from the last few days.

Of course, Morgan is not the only person to employ similar rhetoric and therefore seemingly similar righteous anger to say, the failings of the manager of a north London football club as they would to the evils of a terrorist organisation; we have all done that, in one way or another. Yet perhaps now that so many of us are daily broadcasters via social media, it is the time to use Morgan’s example and realise that some sort of disassociation needs to be made, whether in intonation or in content.

Because, otherwise, in one tweet you might find yourself asking the world: “How many more horrendous Isil attacks before we take off the PC gloves & do something to stop them?” And in a couple more down your timeline – after you have implied that killing innocent children may have to be an option in the war against terror – you will be telling Andrew Strauss that his “head is on the block” as the England wickets tumble.

Who knows, perhaps you, too, will launch a simultaneous defence of Kevin Pietersen’s qualities as a batsman and Donald Trump’s foreign policy?

Is it really appropriate to ask sportsmen for their views on terrorism? 

Nobody is suggesting that Morgan does not know the difference between death and sport. It is just that the manner in which he apparently becomes equally het up about these wildly contrasting areas of life is an insult to what is important.

But then, that is where sport is at the moment. It takes itself so earnestly that it finds it eminently possible to occupy the same headlines as atrocities, and in the actual glare of tragedy to unashamedly demand its own news space. So before Brussels had even begun to clean up, there were stories appearing about whether this meant that Euro 2016 had to played behind closed doors.

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Could the concerns about Euro 2016 not have waited?

Here at the WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas, Thomas Pieters was summoned into the media interview room. Not because of his golfing prowess, but because he happens to be the one Belgian in the 64-string field. As he sat there describing his deep sorrow for his country and recounting his shock at the scenes at an airport “which I travel through all the time”, the scenario appeared so ghoulish. What did we expect him to say? What was he doing up there in front of us? Why not just drag any Belgian from the crowd?

Thomas Pieters
Belgian golfer Thomas Pieters was forced to answer questions about the terrorist attacks in his home country

Pieters is a golfer and, however crass it sounded, at least the questioner who asked him, in the midst of all this emotion, what he thought about his draw against Adam Scott understood this fact. Pieters’ occupation had obviously been forgotten when he was quizzed about immigration and whether “that’s an issue that now should be addressed more in Belgium?”. He is a 24-year-old who hits balls for a living. Does that mean his voice should have any more resonance than the other 10 million or so people in Belgian?

An hour after Pieters, world No 1 Jordan Spieth arrived and, in between being called on to explain his patchy form, he was asked if the events in Brussels raised any “concerns about travelling overseas”. Spieth said it did make him “feel a bit uneasy” but that “fortunately I feel safe here”.

At that point, I wanted to put my hand up and remind him we were in Texas, which experienced 21 mass shootings in 2015. Yet it was not the time and definitely not the place. It was a sports event. That’s all.

[Source:- The Telegraph]