Sport

  • The Ethos of “The Captain”

    The Boy’s Own Paper has entered the English language as a name for a kind of sporting cliché which combines the heroic and the far-fetched. “Boy’s Own stuff”, we say (or at least journalists do) when the debutant football arises from a tackle that looks as if it had put him in hospital to score […]
  • Bob Lord: Butcher and Visionary

    The land in which I grew up was mostly famous for its witches, but there was also an ogre. He was fierce and cruel yet he was able to give the people magnificent gifts because he had absolute power over the thing most people cared about. This was Bob Lord, chairman of Burnley Football Club […]
  • A BBC Sports Channel?

    Five old men meet in a park during lockdown. Within a minute and from a stimulus that nobody remembers we are quoting the holy texts: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.” (Brian Johnston) “And for those of you watching in black and white the pink is next to the green.” (“Whispering” Ted Lowe) “Oh. I […]
  • Sport and Liberty

    This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England 1760-1960 by Robert Colls, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 391, £25.00. This Sporting Life begins with Minna Burnaby, an American lady married to a Leicestershire landowner. Her diary tells us that in the 1909-10 season she rode to hounds on 108 occasions, falling ten times. In the […]
  • Sport in the Middle East

    Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek (Eds), Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East, Hurst & Company (London), 2019, pp. 284. There is a certain football manager who, when he fails to sign the range of players he would have liked, growls, “It is what it is” and gets on with managing what he’s got. […]
  • The Strange Fate of the One Day Game

    A Saturday in May and I made my way to Edgbaston to watch Warwickshire play Lancashire in the Royal London One Day Cup as befits a retired cricketer. It was cold and there were short, sharp showers which included some hail. The crowd were a pleasant lot with something of a Commonwealth flavour: I identified […]
  • Worth a Punt?: An assessment of UK Sports Policy

    (An edited version of this article appeared in The Political Quarterly, Vol. 89, Issue 2, 2018) In the course of studying international sports governance Alan Tomlinson and I became convinced that an important variable which must be considered in comparing organisations is the extent to which they are real as opposed to being a form […]
  • Why I Booed Gaetan Bong

    I’m normally rather quiet and subdued at football matches and have rarely booed anyone, but when Brighton came to Turf Moor on the 28th of April I booed one of their fullbacks, Gaetan Bong, because he had reported the Burnley native and former Burnley player Jay Rodriguez for a remark made to him during a […]
  • You Cannot Be Serious

    David Papineau, Knowing the Score, How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport), Constable, 2017, pp. 328   The sub-title to David Papineau’s book suggests a pair of objectives. They are, of course, open to interpretation. For example, it is eminently clear that the author is not concerning himself with the question of […]
  • On Sporting Retirement

           My most longstanding friend laughed when I told him I had retired from playing cricket. His socks did not come off, but he spluttered into his beer. I half-expected this reaction as he is seventy one and I am rapidly approaching my seventy first birthday so I half-accepted that the situation was laughable. I […]
  • What is University Sport for?

           When I was an undergraduate I shared some philosophy tutorials with a man called Ray Weedon. I knew that he played tennis and that he represented South Africa in the Davis Cup, but that was the only tennis fact about him I knew. Last week, fifty years later, I looked up his record and […]
  • There’s a Deathless Myth on the Close Tonight: Re-assessing Rugby’s Place in the History of Sport

    By Lincoln Allison and Rusty MacLean* (This article was shortlisted for the 2013 Routledge Prize.) ABSTRACT Rugby School has traditionally been credited with an important place in the development of modern organised games. The most famous names in this attribution have been William Webb Ellis, the pupil who “invented” rugby football, and Dr. Thomas Arnold, […]
  • When the (Fairy) Dust has Settled

    My own magic moment – and everybody was, surely asked about their own best moment? – was Mo Farah’s second gold medal, in the 5000 metres. It just so happened that all twelve members of our immediate family were present and we were able to share the common illusion, remarked by no less a figure […]
  • In Which an Ancient Wish is Granted (and Analysed)

           Thursday, September first 2011, the county cricket ground at Worcester: a splendid late summer day, the cathedral reassuringly distinguished across the river, the ground pleasantly filled by a couple of thousand people. This is the England which ex-Prime Ministers make speeches about. Many people say it is the most beautiful cricket ground in the […]
  • Playing with the Devil

           Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich, Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, General Jorge Rafael Videla’s junta in the Argentine, the People’s Republic of China, Mexico’s notoriously corrupt and immovable Institutional Revolutionary Party and now Vladimir Putin’s Russia: all of these have hosted major international sporting events. The prima facie case against the international organisations which have co-operated […]
  • Blueprint for a (Real) Conservative Policy on Sport

           Hugh Robertson, the Shadow Minister for Sport and the Olympics (note the title), along with his “team”, has spent three months researching British sport in order to make a statement about future Conservative sports policy. The result, published in March 2009, can be described as a “more of” approach in relation to the existing […]
  • Ched Evans – and the state of contemporary ethics

           In forty six years of lecturing I have only had to deal with one protest against the content of my lecture. The subject was coercion; it raised questions about the nature of choice such as when one can be said to have a responsibility for an action as opposed to being “made” or “forced” […]