Despite my reservations over the merits of the Commonwealth Games, (like how relevant is it to continue to refer to it as commonwealth, with all its associations with the blood thirsty British Empire) I have been enjoying elements of the games – I particularly enjoyed the Rugby 7’s, after all it’s not everyday you get to see Papua New Guinea versus Malaysia.
But one of the most baffling aspects of the games has been BBC1’s Tonight at the Games a lurid and messy mash up of TFI Friday and a highlights show. Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman and Clare Balding are usually reliable and insightful when it comes to their sporting interviews and observations but they seem uncomfortable and confused as they try and shoehorn a live band and a hyped up studio audience into their coverage of the events. The show seems desperate to make the games “relevant” and up to date and I’m afraid they are trying too hard.
All of this is a brazen attempt to “sex-up” the commonwealth games; but let’s face it can the Lawn Bowls and the scottish winners of this event Alex “Tatty” Marshall and Paul Foster ever be thought of as sexy?
In the pre-amble to the scottish pairs’ appearance on TFI Commonwealth, we were given a condescending explanation as to the merits of bowls and it was plain embarrassing with more than a whiff of Alan Partridge about it. This mock enthusiasm is unfair to the lawn bowlers, who should be respected for what they do and their dedication to their sport. We should cherish the unique and sometimes eccentric qualities of some of these sports, instead of trying to turn everything into the hollow behemoth that is Premiership Football.
Overall you are left with the sense of a wasted opportunity, because instead of tapping in to a country’s enthusiasm for sport and maybe encouraging young people to go out and try something different – All we get is this awkward self-indulgent show that detracts from the fact that Scotland seems to be doing a great job hosting these games.