Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: football, journalism, nylon, progress, prostitution, the economist, the onion
I listened to a podcast from The Economist on the way to work today. The starting line was
“The notion of thinking of journalism as something you go into at age 21 or even at age 18 as used to be, and something you retire from in your sixties, I think that is no longer a wise way of thinking about it.”
It was a piece about the future of journalism. When inside the Big Corporation I felt it easy to criticise other industries for failing to reform – journalism’s own troubles made me feel mildly queasy in a slightly hidden way. It didn’t affect me in my cast-iron job. But then I jumped ship and waved goodbye to my large pay off to do so. I didn’t want to be that frog sitting still in the water as it comes to the boil. It’s one of the few brave things that I’ve ever done, and my own individual attempt to avoid being Monkeysized.
I have my own thoughts about the future of journalism now. I’m shocked at how well prepared journalists are for the outside world, but also at the denial that most journalists have about being forced to show it. One of the two men on the Economist’s pod said he’d prefer it if it his kids stayed well clear of it.
I put the pod up on my Facebook page. My journalistic friends seem to be avoiding it – they’re instead going for the Onion report that I put up about Football:
“Deep down soccer’s about a bunch of guys running around, not touching a polka-dot ball with their hands. It shouldn’t have to hide how gay it is.”
There was a sketch in a BBC series a year or two back that took the mickey out of the ‘Now! The greatest showdown in the history of the world… since the last showdown!’ culture in sports. In the same vein comes (as ever) the Onion…
Over the past five years, sports announcers have displayed a marked increase in their ability to accept the evidence of their eyes and find the sporting efforts they witness “entirely credible,” a study published Wednesday concluded. “In the past, sportscasters were like newborn infants, assuming each running catch or 28-point performance was outside the realm of possibility,” said Cornell University researcher Karen Thaler, who noted that “wow’s” and “oh-my’s” have recently hit all-time lows. “It appears they are now able to contextualize an event within the long and varied history of team sports that came before it.
Sport is ludicrous. The bountiful rewards for task xxx but not xxh are extreme. Look at basketball, American football, or, taking two of my favourite and relatively unrewarded sports, cricket and rugby. Becoming the world’s greatest wrist spinner or tighthead prop is indeed a skill, but perhaps I was born with the exact and precise skill to do task xxf+32, which unfortunately hasn’t found its sport yet. Bugger.
Sport is part show business, hence the validity of The Onion’s observations. It’s also part athletic challenge, in whichever specific way it needs to be framed – tighthead prop against potential expert in xxf+32.
So is it monkeysized or not? Well evidently not – although the simple thing to say is that a sense of perspective is everything in matters monkeysized. If you earn a fortune as a – and I use the term with amusement rather than any understanding of what the hell it means – ‘pinch-hitter’, then thank god for the way the world built up in such a weird way that you could excel in your chosen field and then earn a good coin or two in it. No, you are not the second coming. No, girls, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get your hands on a super-human. He just happened to be good at xx6ygx, and be born at the right time in the right place.
I’ll always love sport, and treat it with the contempt that it deserves – after all, as a Middlesbrough supporter I’m hardly liable to overcook how important it all is. I’ll help any kids Mrs Monkeysize provides me with understand all that stuff about values and character (which I believe in), and teach them that it’s worth supporting Boro (or Mrs M’s family’s team, the rather more saintly Sampdoria) because it’s character-building.
It’s also a fabulous reminder of how ridiculous so much of our lives are. Yes, rugby and pinch-hitting and the premier league and Middlesbrough are all ridiculous, but so is much of the rest of it. Sit back, remember it’s ridiculous, and enjoy. Just don’t go stabbing anybody over it.
PS Boro 2-0 Preston. Get in!