The name of the game

Moral dimension

If I were a pro
Whose name and logo
Would I be prepared
To wear
In exchange for a berth
In the greatest annual
Sporting show on Earth?

A big foreign bank’s?
Thanks, but no thanks.

A car-hire firm’s?
Not on their terms.

Some Big Pharma name?
Spare me the shame.

Liquid gas? Coated steel?
Come on now. Get real.

GPS, smartphone makers?
Sorry. No takers.

Owned by voicemail hackers?
Not my ideal backers.

The national flag?
Not really my bag.
(And, while highly evocative,
The Cross of St George
Might be seen as provocative
Should Le Tour
Ever take in Agincourt).

But since my fate is
Amateur status
I’m free to remain
And unstained.

11 thoughts on “The name of the game

  1. A fun poem Nick with a serious point underlying it.

    The pressure put on young sportsmen and women today to conform – to take the sponsors money, to take the drugs, to go along with the image of role model created by the marketing men, must be enormous – I do not envy them.

    We, as a sporting public are of course complicit in the illusion.

    Like you I was never good enough to be put under that sort of pressure so I could do my sport with a smile on my face. So often nowadays that smile is missing from our sportspeople. Which is sad I think.

    One of the great pleasures of my watching sport recently was seeing the smile on Rory McIlroys face as he played the final few holes in the US Open golf. This pleasure has nothing to do with the fact that he is from my home country!!! 🙂


    • I agree – it’s wonderful to see someone at the top of their game and also obviously enjoying themselves! Cycling, in particular, has this quasi-religious ‘cult of suffering’ attached to it, which means every race has to be ‘the hardest/toughest/most challenging I’ve ever ridden’ in the post-finish interviews. There’s a lot to be said for amateurism; I get infinitely more pleasure from writing poems and giving them away free than I do from writing brochures and web copy I know I’m getting paid for. And yes, yer man Rory is a breath of fresh air in the buttoned-up world of professional sport. We need more like him.

  2. Lovely poem. I love the tour, but mostly for the scenery 🙂 Whenever sport and money come together, the sport becomes nasty somehow with drugs. Still it is a great achievement to ride all those days and so many kilometers.
    But the chateaux and the mountains are the best 🙂

    • Thank you Charles – the Tour is perhaps the ultimate example of sport and money’s unholy matrimony, conceived as it was solely to promote a newspaper. I suupose the only comfort we can take is that cycling doesn’t yet attract the obscene amounts of money we see in football (your kind and ours!) and other more ‘mainstream’ sports. Now that Rupert Murdoch’s empire is involved, albeit only as a team sponsor so far, I wonder how long that will last.

    • Thanks so much, John – it’s a subject I do feel strongly about, but in the face of such enormous vested interests, one can feel powerless; I find the only way to stick something to ’em in these circumstances is to poke a little gentle fun. Glad you enjoyed it!

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