The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - February 13, 2014

SNOW QUEEN Slovenia's Tina Maze celebrates after finishing in the women's downhill at the Sochi Olympics
SNOW QUEEN Slovenia's Tina Maze celebrates after finishing in the women's downhill at the Sochi Olympics
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I have to confess that I’m not getting into the spirit of the Winter Olympics.

I know this because I accidentally switched it on the other day. And I mean accidentally – I flopped on to the sofa to eat my potato and leek soup and sat on the remote control with my left buttock (it’s always a surprising moment when the TV unexpectedly switches on. For a few seconds you sit there and think ‘how the hell did that happen?’ before realising you’ve sat on the bloody remote again. Anyway, I’m wandering off topic so back to the point).

What came on the box was some ice hockey, Trinidad and Tobago v The Cayman Islands or something so I’m guessing it wasn’t one of the glamour clashes.

As far as I could tell a group of people on skates were chasing a small circular shape (the commentator called it a puck; to me it looked like one of those beef tasty treats we give the cat when he uses his litter tray as opposed to the bathroom floor). They were wearing helmets and large shoulder pads and very little appeared to happen.

They whacked this circular thing forward and then the other team whacked it back, while the commentator said things like ‘wonderful vision from the number eight, you won’t see a better backhand reverse thwack all tournament’.

The cameraman, obviously as bored as me, kept zooming in on a petite blonde in the crowd so I probably watched for a little longer than I might ordinarily have, but even so I’d had enough after three minutes, and turned over to watch The One Show instead (it was a fascinating episode – Gyles Brandreth was examining the decline of cheese-making in Cleethorpes, while John Sergeant went to Market Harborough to meet a 48-year-old man with Britain’s largest collection of tea-towels).

But my point about the Winter Olympics isn’t that it’s not very interesting – though this is most certainly true – but that to me it doesn’t seem like sport.

Let me explain. I happened to catch a bit of the snowboarding on Sunday morning.

Well, less happened, more bullied, as Mrs Canavan was screaming up the stairs for me to come down.

At first I thought the cat had missed his litter tray again but it turns out some woman had just won Britain’s first ever medal on snow.

So, after pulling on my red satin pyjama bottoms, I trooped into the lounge to watch.

It was very nice that she won (a bronze by the way, not gold – we’re easily pleased in this country) and she seemed a lovely lady but is snowboarding really a sport? It’s basically sliding down snow on a piece of wood.

In my day that was called sledging and it was bloody good fun.

And that’s what I mean. Surely sport is about suffering and pain. Take the shot put, a proper sport.

You have to be 27 stone, built like a brick outhouse and have a lot of facial hair to take part. And that’s just the woman.

They grimace and shriek as they hurl the shot into the air. It looks awful. They are suffering. Snowboarding ... one of the girls at Sochi came down the slope holding a fag in one hand and chatting to a mate on her mobile phone with the other.

Just in case any of our Winter Olympians have relations in Blackpool, I am of course jesting. I’ve seen some of those leaps and twirls and somersaults they do on their snowboards and I grant you, it’s looks a tad tricky.

I’ll maybe give the Winter Olympics another bash before it all ends, at the very least it saves me from having to watch The One Show.

Pietersen saga just sums it up

One of my favourites quotes about cricket is ‘Oh God, if there be cricket in heaven, let there also be rain’.

So I’ll keep this brief.

Dumping Kevin Pietersen sums up British sport.

He has been axed because he dares to enjoy himself, to go for his shots, to entertain. England don’t want players like that, they want players who will dig in score runs slowly, build an innings.

Which sums up our country. We don’t like flair. It’s why we’ve got a national football team that can barely string a pass together.

In Spain youngsters are encouraged to pass constantly, short tiki-taka football. Here we teach the kids to boot it forward and chase after it. It’s safe you see, by booting it you won’t make mistake s and risk conceding a goal. It’s why we are light years behind at football.

And judging by the Pietersen episode it will happen in cricket too. By getting rid of Pietersen, we’re saying ‘kids, you can’t play your natural game, you have to be disciplined and block – not try and hit a six’. How depressing is that? We are getting rid of the fun.

Surely England can afford to have one player who wants to go for his shots, and surely they can manage him as an individual, even if he is occasionally a bit stroppy.

It’s another sad demonstration of how this country suppresses rather than encourages flair. It makes for a much duller world.