Row Z edition 66; dateline 1 June 2012

Following the success of May’s experiment when we let the work experience lass edit the column (two complaints and one letter to the editor) and the recent good weather, Sideliner phoned in the instruction to let someone else have a go. This month’s guest editor is, therefore, the old bloke who looks after the garden at Row Z Towers.

Planting the seeds of ennui
For the fifth year in a row our invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show seems to have gone amiss and we have been forced to miss the early evening repeats of The Big Bang Theory in order to watch Alan “Bonny Lad” Titchmarsh parsing on about peonies and planting schemes to assess the gardening zeitgeist. From our vantage point on an IKEA sofa just after gin o’clock it looks like a great deal of fuss about a few fuchsias and one which is fast becoming more a celeb-fest than a serious horticultural exhibition. Or, if you prefer, harrumph!

Drugs, cheats & the dirtiest race in history
Thanks to our friends at The Leisure Review and their friends at Bloomsbury Publishing, Row Z is offering two places to one lucky reader at what promises to be a genuinely fascinating early evening debate featuring John Inverdale  (yes, that John Inverdale) and sports journalist Richard Moore on the vexed subject of drugs in sport. According to David Howman, the chief executive of the World Anti-Doping Agency, one in ten Olympians cheat with drugs. Back in 1988 one of them, Ben Jonson, got caught and Moore has told the story of the race that proved to be his undoing in a new book. On the evening of 13 June at the Bloomsbury Institute (it’s in London) Moore and Inverdale will discuss drugs, pressure to perform and the effect of rivalries as intense as Jonson’s with Carl Lewis, and might even touch on Linford Christie’s part in the infamous 1988 100m final. If Moore’s book In Search of Robert Millar is anything to go by his latest will be insightful, honest and hard to put down. Given that John Inverdale twinkles even more in person than he does on the television and with drinks from 6pm, this will be a cracking – and for one reader a free – evening out. To win two tickets to the event just drop Sideliner a line answering this question: “Dwayne Chambers: why pick him?” by noon on Wednesday 6 June. Best one-sentence answer bags the brace of tickets.
For tickets visit

Lebensraum: a partnership approach
While some might find the association of the Fitness Industry Association (FIA) with one of Hitler’s policies gratuitously unpleasant (and for that we apologise), there is no denying that the FIA are spreading their wings, pushing their envelope and acquiring notional territory in what some insiders believe is a bid to be the “one institute for the sector” which leisure industry professional bodies have long publicly espoused, while privately adding “as long as its us”. Press releases seem to be landing on an almost daily basis, trumpeting FIA partnerships here and FIA strategic alliances there. Now, with “an organisational rebrand to better reflect the association’s current position, specialisms, knowledge, networks, partnerships and experience as the trade body of the UK health, fitness and wellbeing sector” in full swing, other, possibly Loughborough-based, bodies operating in the same ball park but without the same membership and resources as the FIA might do well to get a little nervous.

What do you call an expensive irrelevance?
Regular readers of Row Z know that Sport England’s new Club Leaders scheme to train volunteers in the skills of running their clubs (many of which existed long before Sport England was dreamt of and will still be there when the agency is long gone) is being delivered by parvenus in the sport, leisure and culture sector, Messrs Price, Waterhouse and Cooper. But did either of you know that their – that’s Price’s, Waterhouse’s and Cooper’s – blinding idea is to deliver this training via a website. Call it e-learning if you will; at Row Z we call it laziness and cost-cutting. We sent the digital intern into the matrix to assess just one module and, since Sportscoach UK have just rewritten and are about to re-launch their mentoring workshop and resource, we chose the section on, surprise, surprise, mentoring. SCUK have prepared a three-hour workshop and a 60-page resource, suggesting this is just a starting point. Price, Waterhouse and Cooper have each penned 100 words on the subject; nearly. Including headers and repetitions but excluding pretty pictures and ‘design’, the section runs to 294 words. Anyone with a good word to say about this wasted opportunity – sorry, exciting new programme – should get in touch through the usual channels.
STOP PRESS: One of the blokes from TLR Communications Ltd – the boutique communications practice which uses our attic as an office – has just popped down to point out that the areas in which the programme provides training are “Business and Financial Planning; Marketing; Governance; and Facilitates Management”. Their caps, their lack of proofreading.

Tae Kwan Don’t you dare!
The answer to the question “Why don’t the people picking the GB sprinters simply decline to pick drugs cheat Dwayne Chambers?” has been given by the Aaron Cook farrago. Soon to be world number one, Cook was not picked for London by British Taekwando but the governing body has been told to reconvene their selection committee forthwith with a BOA “observer in the room. They could sell tickets to obviate the cost of the tea and coffee…


Despite the fact that few noticed and none mourned the passing of this feature, we have decided to resurrect:

What we have learned from…

The “retirement” of three London 2012 tour busses: that LOCOG make Rumplestiltskin look idle when it comes to spinning; that more than 280,000 people have visited the Olympic Park since tours started in 2007; that the Olympic Delivery Authority hired and trained special travel ambassadors but everybody just called them conductors (we made the last bit up); and that the “retirement” of three London 2012 tour busses” isn’t really very interesting.

The Italian Ski Federation’s bid to host the 2017 World Championships: that it is probably best to understand all of the rules of a bidding contest before committing two years of hard work from a “young team made up of experts from Cortina d’Ampezzo” and “huge, already financed, investments”; that “unwritten rules” can bite you in the bum; and that the FISI President Flavio Roda seems like a nice chap whose English is not so good.

That Torch Relay: that the venality of LOCOG and its sponsors – sorry presenting partners – knows no bounds; that even the people who were 30 minutes late getting to Truro, the first city on the tour, know enough to plan their trip to Moss Side Manchester for 7 o’clock on a Sunday; and that the great British public really do seem to give a fig for London’s Olympics.





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