On Saturday 10 days ago, I caught the final 15 minutes of the Ireland vs Wales Rugby International. My father-t-law Pat was conflicted because he is Cardiff-Irish but it was, for him, a win-win situation either way. Wales beat [23-16] but did not trounce the Irish. It seems fairly straight forward: each country fields a team of fit, strong, agile, skillful young(ish) men to do symbolic battle on our behalf. It's good, in my book, because it celebrates diversity: it is hard to find "Citius - Altius - Fortius" all three in one man, so the teams are complementary and mutually supportive. And despite the concerns of neurologists about contact sport encephalopathy CSE, it's surely better to have Our Boys heaving against each other in a scrum than heaving spears and rocks at each other until somebody loses an eye. There is a Machiavellian argument to be made against wall-to-wall broadcasting of professional sports every week-end afternoon - surely it would be better to get the citizenry off the sofa at home and shedding some pounds on a local sports field.
There are other sports where the lines are a lot more blurry. Less about Citius/Altius/Fortius and more about Sexius/Scantius/Exploitius. In another of my tirades against boxing, I mentioned Alexei Sayle's throwaway critique of rhythmic gymnastics, suggesting that it was more like pole-dancing [Saddius] than pole-vaulting [Altius]. So you don't have to, I've trawled through youtube to find a short example of a Ukrainian young-wan Viktoriia Mazur cavorting with a ball. She can do amazing things with a whip too. But if it was only about her dexterity and fitness she'd be doing her perf in track-suit, wouldn't she?
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