Saturday, April 21, 2012

Olympic European Qualifiers, Bratisvlava

No Olympics - now what? First of all, some thanks...

I suppose to some extent the Olympic goal was possibly a bridge too far from a starting point of having begun the sport at the ripe age of 18 in a country without a recent international pedigree in fencing. Furthermore, this was not necessarily my explicit personal goal but instead it was rather to push myself to see what I could achieve. As an external watermark of achievement, in this brief lull of reflection, I'm proud that I was selected to participate and that I participated to the best of my ability.

Thanks for all your kind words of support over the last few days! More especially I'd like to thank all of you for your support, which took so many different forms, over the last ten years or so. Thanks especially to my family for their constant love and encouragement; to all the great friends I made through the sport in Ireland who helped foster this passion for the sport within me; to my club-mates and coaches at US Metro who've helped me achieve this level; to all the wonderful friends I've met in my time in France; and of course, Laura, who has been a constant support and has bore the brunt of the fencing-induced mood-swings, depressions and poverty over these last 3 years. I remember particularly today my number 1 fan - my grandmother - who died last year and those friends who were taken from us too young.

I'm happy with how I fenced today and I feel I reached my own personal goal of leaving content to have no regrets and achieving one of my best international performances. Somewhat analogous of my international career at certain moments key decisions and luck didn't always come my way but that is the flawed and masochistic sport I chose.

Today really reminded me of the brutal nature of this and to varying extents all sport. That such happiness/despair can rest on the trajectory of wildly-bending shards of metal, the interpretation of referees, a minute twitch of a muscle propelling the sabre towards it's target, the endemic corruption involved in any international sport governed by a poorly defined set of conventions... And yet I can't quite bring myself to hate it. I think I'm in an abusive relation with this sport and I, like 99% of the participants, am the battered spouse. I suppose then the only question becomes when to leave it and how...

But now as one arbitrary cycle comes to a close, it's a moment to reflect and to allow myself a moment of pride (if I may be so self-indulgent) and decide what to do next. Perhaps, I'll even start writing a blog.



Friday, March 09, 2012

There's Something About Half-Time Shots

There's something infinitely satisfying about watching some ordinary punter succeed in their half-time attempt to win X amount of dollars or a new car or whatever the prize might be by shooting a 3-pointer, scoring from the half-way line, getting a field-goal, slowly sliding an ice-hockey puck into the net. At first we are rooting for the John Everyman for this Willy Lowman we see ourselves in this poor gormless idiot (well I imagine the rest of you do) and then we are either amused by a particularly awful attempt, are ready to groan at a near-miss or are ready to go mental for the rare success. 

As a marketing ploy designed to momentarily catch our attention, it can't really lose no matter what the outcome for the sponsor and if it's a success all though they will have to spend more it has the chance of going viral and getting even more attention for the brand.

But what if we look at the small subset of all successes together what does it tell us about fairness in the cosmos. Case in point - 

Idiot somehow lands 3-point shot get $77,777... Dances around like an idiot... Then we see the way he threw the ball. Compared that to - 

Man gets a lay-up, a free throw, a three-pointer and a half-court shot to receive... a $3,000 voucher from a shop unfortunately named The Dump.

It seems to me there is a very tenuous relationship between effort, skill and reward in a lot of these cases. In the second case above The Dump clearly didn't want to pay out the $3,000 prize and tried to limit their pay out by requiring a large amount of skill. In the first case they tried to select an idiot to do something very difficult in order to limit their chances of paying out $77,777 but idiots can always surprise you.

Which leads us on to perhaps the ultimate half-time shot for £250,000

Really makes throwing a ball into a little basket seem a bit pathetic particularly...

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