Row Z edition 52; dateline 1 March 2011

Not so fast, Mr Ganguly
What better way to spend a wet Sunday morning in February than whittling a tent peg and listening to the BBC’s coverage of the one-day cricket world cup from the sub-continent? England taking on the hosts India are struggling to contain Messrs Gambhir and Tendulkar who are carting our quicks all over Bangalore when Captain Strauss tosses the ball to spinmeister Swann. In the booth alongside Jonathan Agnew ex-pace demon Sourav Ganguly offers his opinion that our Graeme has built his reputation in friendly circumstances, perhaps suggesting, to paraphase a film title, that “white men can’t play spin”. Agnew’s response? “He’s bowled him!” as Swann’s first ball turns and Gambhir trudges off.

Acronymically speaking
With the removal of Peter "Mister" Mann from the process to create one new institute for the sector we have lost an inspirational leader, a consultant's consultant and the possibility of using one of the great jokes of our time. By planning to simply title the Frankenstein monster that is the amalgamation of ISRM and ISPAL – itself the agglomeration of ILAM and NASD – the Institute of Sport, Mr Mann gave himself or his successor the ultimate out when facing critcism for lack of progress or the wrong progress. David Brailsford pioneered the criticism-deflecting technique when he coined a phrase designed to draw a line under all that has passed – the misjudgement that took Cav out of the Tour to Beijing on a wild goose chase, for example – and so prevent endless debate. Whoever renamed the new organisation the Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (IMSPA) has robbed us all of the joy of hearing the deathless phrase: “IS is what IS is.” And that's a shame.

Five-star idea from the DCMS
Hands up anyone who can tell us who John Penrose is. John Penrose MP, that is, not the chap that lives down your street. In fact he’s more than an MP, he seems to be a minister within the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. His brief, apparently, is tourism and his beef, for the moment, is hotel ratings. In a closely argued piece on what the department are pleased to call “the DCMS blog” (you can find it under their “Twitter feeds”) Johnny Boy compares buying a holiday to buying a car, suggesting that both should only be done after collating the opinions of as many sources as possible, however unqualified. What you should not do, he suggests, is pay heed to a centralised, standardised, proven standard which when it says “five stars” means “pretty damn plush, spotlessly clean and with flunkies who’ll bring you a ham sandwich at two in the morning and call you ‘madam’ when they do it”. No, we don’t need a hotel rating system. Better we all hie off to Trip Advisor to discover that the woman who comes in two mornings a week to do the books’ favourite hotel ever, the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, warrants only “what a disappointment”. Whoever you are, Mr Penrose, you are a chump.

Project yourself
We are indebted to Ollie Dudfield who takes time on the UK Sport website to explain the concept and practicalities of their recent International Community Coach Education Systems (ICES) “webinar”. The webinar – such a very modern concept – allowed 27 people from various parts of the globe to talk about protecting and empowering children in sport and development by watching keynote speakers, interacting with other network members and signposting information, resources and good practice in the field. In an attempt to explain why ICES exists, Ollie writes, “There was a commitment to the power and potential of situated, collaborative learning”, although he points out that “the expanse of participating agencies’ geographic locations proved challenging”. No biographical detail is given on Mr Dudfield and if his first language is something other than English we would just like to say well done on your extensive report on the webinar. But if not, Ollie mate, run your stuff past a reputable communications agency next time and get it put in English before you publish.

Badge me up, dawg
Our coaching correspondent has a question for the good people at Derbyshire Sport (it’s a county sport partnership) who are offering a prize and the title of “Coaching Derbyshire highly qualified coach” to someone who “has high-level coaching qualifications in the sport they coach, or a coach who has qualifications in a range of sports. This coach may also have a range of bespoke coaching qualifications.” The question is: “Why?”

Alan Barber RIP
The death of Alan Barber a few weeks ago after a long illness prompted many to wax lyrical about the man who arguably did more than any other individual of the modern age to persuade government and national agencies of the importance of parks and the value of investing in public open space. Although AB's innate suspicion of both sport and alcohol meant that the great man of parks and Sideliner were never likely to be the closest of friends, Sidey was always moved to smile a heartfelt "Chapeau!" whenever AB used to roll into the car park of ILAM House in a gleaming Ford Capri. Style never goes out of fashion.

If it can happen there. Part 23
The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (RLSSA) have moved to trademark the word ‘lifeguard’ for “clothing, merchandise, pharmaceutical preparations, printed materials, games, food and drinks” in a development that has caused a storm of protest. The RLSSA claim that the they “sought protection of the word lifeguard from inappropriate use, such as souvenir tee-shirts saying 'lifeguard' or when use of the word ‘lifeguard’ causes potential safety issues”. They added, "We do not want to restrict use of the word where its use would be appropriate and necessary." Curiously councils and private companies are askance at the attempted coup, with one commercial operator quoted as saying the RLSSA “are simply trying to reduce competition in the industry and prevent other organisations, including training providers, from offering similar products and services". You pay your money, as they say, and you wait to see what the folk at River House, Broom make of it all.

Drawing a veil

This month we shall be treating these violent offences as if Rooney had committed them in between belting Wigan players:

Ashley Cole thinking its OK to shoot the work experience lad in the leg; Chelsea thinking all the offence warranted was a serious wigging; Ashley Cole taking his gun to work; Ashley Cole having a gun; Ashley Cole; India and England wasting a whole day settling for a draw when they could have been at the beach; the King’s Sp-speech; Lauren Laverne’s repeated claims that she’s not the token bird on 10 o’clock live; women (and perhaps some men) being invited to have their photo taken arm in arm with a wax model of William Windsor in the name of art; Martin Johnson pretending he doesn’t know the Grand Slam is in the bag; Graham Gooch, former England batter and captain, asked to comment on the public coming out of Steven Davies and referring to homosexuality as a “persuasion”; Sport England’s soi-disant Inspired Facilities scheme which “eliminates the burden of procurement and generates economicies of scale” (their typo).

At the Arts End

Fierce Festival returns to the second city
Post-industrial buildings in Digbeth will become temporary performance spaces as part of Birmingham’s Fierce Festival later this month when the city welcomes “artists from around the world as they create boundary-pushing performances and installations”. Sideliner was particularly taken by the opportunity Fierce will offer to experience South African artist James Webb’s Prayer, “a multi-layered audio installation featuring recordings of over 100 of the city's faith groups in prayer, chant or sacred song, gathered by the artist during the first three weeks of March”. Sidey thinks that Prayer will provide the city with a portrait of itself, rich with diversity and cultures and can’t wait to find someone in the office who can manage to make the event. 

'Bonham Carter was robbed' shock
The hoopla of the awards season continues (or does it end now?) with the Oscars as Britons win best director, best actor and best film for a tub-thumping biopic about a stammering war-monger and his gin-sodden wife. Doubtless David Cameron will be inviting them all round for coffee and photographs in celebration of the days when the working class were just that and posh toffs like him had nothing better to do than beat their children and bugger their batman. Oh for the good old days, eh Dave?

Kyle and Coke?
Three years ago labour’s culture secretary Andy Burnham tried to prevent the onset of product placement in British television programmes, saying something like “over my dead political body”. Well he lost his job and big commerce has persuaded – or is that paid? – the Tories to allow the floodgates to be opened. Peter Bazalgette, who last month joined the DCMS board, is one who hopes to benefit by flogging the services of a digital gizmo that back-inserts products once a programme has been made. Arguably we can look forward to John Thaw eating Walkers smoky bacon with his pint of indeterminate wallop in old episodes of Morse while we simultaneously get used to Jeremy Kyle ordering up his endless DNA tests from Boots. Daytime television just got interesting.

Back to the barre
It would seem the success of ballet movie Black Swan is sparking a return to the form for ladies of a certain age. The English National Ballet suggest that ballet “is an excellent way to develop poise, fitness, flexibility, strength and co-ordination as well as boosting self-confidence and meeting like-minded individuals”. They are massively over-subscribed for their adult returners programme. Quite why they aren’t putting on more sessions remains unclear but a quick Google suggests that anyone wanting to get back to ballet will find plenty of opportunities. Rumours that England Netball have commissioned a script in which an unhinged wing-attack sleeps with her centre before painting her face black and weeping a bit remain unconfirmed.


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