Running the race?

Feb 13th, 2006 | By | Category: Spirituality

I wasted most of yesterday afternoon watching Eurosport – a satellite television channel that has an amazing range of sporting coverage.

The sport yesterday was the Winter Olympics from Turin and there was live coverage of events I didn’t know existed. There was the men’s 15 km + 15 km pursuit. The first part was fifteen kilometres cross- country ski-ing on long skis, which seemed thoroughly exhausting. The commentator kept talking about the skating that would follow in the second fifteen kilometres. But the “skatingâ€? instead of being on ices skates on a flat surface, was fifteen further kilometres cross-country on short skis.

The pain on the face of some of the competitors suggested this was not a sport for wimps; most of them made the average Premiership footballer look like a seven stone weakling. The race went to a sprint finish with the winner triumphing by no more than a metre.

Of course, when it came to the sports round up on the radio this morning there was not a mention of such events. There was the usual stuff about Gaelic games, about the rugby, where Ireland figures at a world level, and then news about English and Scottish soccer.

I can never figure out why there is a continuing fixation with English and Scottish football. I have lived here for seven years and have never found many people interested, and I am an active football supporter, going to local games regularly.

There seems to be parochialism in our sports coverage; a feeling that there are historical ties between Britain and Ireland so we must go on showing British football and providing free advertising for the merchandise of their clubs. If the Irish channels decided tomorrow that they would provide no further coverage of cross-channel football, I think the interest would die very quickly.

Television sport thoughts are prompted by yesterday’s reading from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.�

Which sporting figures provide better role models for Christians, the 30 km cross-country skiers, the pain engraved across their faces, or the overpaid stars of the English Football Premiership?

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