Edition number 1; dateline 18 June 2007

Bulls, Sharks and seven bells
Anybody who believes that the All Blacks will go completely unchallenged at the forthcoming Rugby Union World Cup would do well to visit the YouTube website and look about for video clips of Sale Shark Sebastian Chabal in the recent two-game series Down Under. Courtesy of the computer skills of the work experience lad, we were able to watch the Bull of Heaton Mersey (as he is doubtless known in Stockport and environs) knocking ‘seven bells’ out of Kiwis Williams and Masoe; breaking the former’s jaw and making the latter look as steady on his pins as a newborn lamb – and just a threatening. Perhaps the Kiwis are “Note as terff as zey teenk”. Allez Sea Bass!

Between the cracks
Word reaches us from the rarefied atmosphere of Sport England’s palatial new offices that new chair Derek Mapp is putting the cat amongst the pigeons at DCMS and indeed beyond. Doubtless cheesed off that his agency is losing cash to the 2012 effort, it seems he has told Cockspur Street mandarins that his team will only focus on what they are being paid to deliver – “increasing the participation of those over 16 years of age”. A reasonable enough assertion, you might think. However his redefinition of the word “focus” from “concentrate on” to “ignore everything else but” is what is causing consternation. Amusing as this might seem to the bystander, it might be very unfunny indeed for the target groups that suddenly fall between the cracks of the increasingly rickety “delivery system for sport”.

But soft! Real soft…
In Row Z we pride ourselves on using language accurately – if stylishly – and we don’t take kindly to jargon, management-speak and the proliferation of increasingly meaningless memes. All of which means the word ‘partner’ is currently slipping on to our hit list as it becomes monumentally over-used and even mutates from noun to verb! Our distrust of the word and the people who use it has only been increased on dipping into the office copy of the Arden Shakespeare version of the bard’s meisterwerk, Hamlet. As you will recall, Act 1, Scene 1 is set on Elsinore’s battlements. A chilled Barnardo says to fellow sentinel Fransisco (and we quote): “If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, the rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.” At this point the diligent student will no doubt check the footnote to find out just what he means by “rivals”. And discover that in Will’s day – as all too often nowadays if we look at the Big 3 Agencies (UK Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust) – the words ‘rivals’ and ‘partners’ are synonymous!

Caborn Watch
This week’s Caborn Watch looks at whom will succeed the longest serving sports minister when The Broon takes up office. Apparently Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley, has emerged as a leading contender. The likely reason why he should succeed the Yorkshireman is simply that he has been “a loyal adviser to Brown since 1999”. The given justification? That he is an Aston Villa season-ticket holder! He claims to watch Premiership kickball and therefore he must be the right chap to be sports minister? It makes about as much sense as putting a waste disposal expert in charge of Sport England.

From the poolside
Ever hungry for the latest industry news, we visited the site of “the only national professional body for those involved exclusively in providing, managing, operating and developing sport and recreation services in the United Kingdom”. On the day of our visit, ISRM – for it is they – had five items deemed newsworthy:  a lifeguard competition; lifeguard triathlon; a regional AGM for the North Britons; a swimming consultation; and a SIBEC announcement. Those chuckle heads out there who thought the ‘S’ stood for “Swimming” have clearly got it wrong.  

From the riverside
Mind you, we did find one nugget in the aqua-dross. It seems that the “SIBEC UK 07 event has announced that it is working in association with ISRM and CLOA”. Grand news for all concerned but not so cheery for the pointedly absent ISPAL, the artist formerly known as ILAM. It seems that the petty squabbling for position between the soi-disant professional organisations, who really should know better, is set to continue, a set of circumstances that benefits only lazy hacks who find easy copy in the shenanigans. And, of course, the plethora of chief executives sitting in corner offices and counting their salaries. To be fair to ISRM, they actually only have one – the sainted Ralph Riley – whereas down on the banks of the Thames there were, at the last count, three. The face of ISPAL, the silver-haired rock star David Teasdale, is to be replaced soon by the notably female Sue Sutton but last time we looked he was being temporarily replaced by a young man from Mr T’s own marketing company.

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