15th Aug 2012
We have enjoyed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 30th Olympic Games and seen how important sport is today. The flags denote the nations and the motto of Citius Altius Fortius among all the camaraderie leaves out the essential element – Faster, Higher, Stronger (than the other guy). So what we have is a coming together of rivals and as Vince Lombardi said “if winning isn’t important, why do they keep the score”. If it was only about the winners, then there would be no heats or semi-finals, the qualifying times or standards could be much higher and the events run off over a couple or three days. But it is more than the winning, it is the little wins, the triumphs over personal adversity, the setting of personal bests, the measuring.
In all the Olympic fuss, the achievement of Rory McIlroy in reaching a new career milestone of multiple major wins at a younger age than Woods or Nicklaus is startling. Here is a young sports person brought into comparison with the greats of all time.
I have the complete collection of Timeform “Racehorses” annuals going back to the original Phil Bull tome – Best Horses of 1945. The object of Mr Bull’s exercise was to determine the relative merits of the horses in training but of course it has evolved into a comparison between the generations. When the Timeform organisation was sold to Betfair it coincided with a sudden advance in the population of horses achieving elite ratings. Was this new editorial bias in favour of the big story? Was the studied reticence of the Timeform of old ditched in favour of a tabloid headline? Or have we seen the most glorious phase in racing history? Sea The Stars- Frankel-maybe Camelot? I was worried when Harbinger was being bracketed as one of the best of all time.
With a new era in GB racing television and a new lesson learnt from London 2012 it would be great if racing could begin to restore some lost prominence. The fundamentals for the successes of the organisers of the Olympics, the PGA, the Champions League or the European Rugby Cup include relevance, integrity and coherence of message and passion. Money washes around these ventures, but only as a by product of the other ingredients. The more racing craves money and obsesses on finance the more detached the audience becomes. Nobody bothers looking in the window of the stock exchange.