I was on ‘Good Morning Ulster’ ( why do they call it that when they don’t serve one-third of Ulster? Answers on a postage stamp, please) this morning, talking about the amount of sport that’s currently on TV. I like sport, particularly football (soccer) and football (Gaelic), but at the moment we’re like pate de foie gras geese, having the stuff rammed into us until we can scarcely breathe. Today, for example, you can get well over ten hours of continuous television football (soccer) and over nine hours of continuous Wimbledon tennis. And that’s not counting the three Sky Sports Channels that direct their fire at us 365 days of the year. To say you can change channels is beside the point: that’s what the banks said when they kept dangling loans in front of us all, until the whole system collapsed in on itself. And not content with its own programmes, sport has started to invade and colonize non-sports areas. Last night on the BBC’s Six O’Clock News we got a major item on what Frank Lampard said about what John Terry said about Fabio Capello; and I was just drawing breath after that when Newsline 630 came on and blimey, Donna Traynor is in a state of high excitement in Portrush, introducing us to every twig on every branch of the Graham McDowell (golfer) family tree. It’s all driven by greed, of course: TV greed for audience share, football club greed for TV revenue stream, footballer greed for a good chunk of the pie, until eventually the clubs at the top sicken and find themselves creating annual debt that runs into tens of millions, while down at the bottom teams face collapse because nobody’s interested in going to their games.
Televised sport is a marvellous thing, but somebody needs to shout into the schedulers’ collective ear at least once every day: “LESS IS MORE!” Then maybe we could get back to watching Match of the Day and really enjoying it.