TV feeding gluttonous appetite for sports

Sensational! Special! It’s that time of the year when even too much sport is not enough, as we are taking it one day at a time, down to the wire as winners are grinners and losers just seem to evaporate.

Have you delved into TV-land lately?

Having just survived the five-match Test cricket series, the nation is trying to balance – in just this week – the tennis Australian Open, cycling’s Tour Down Under, an Aussie doing well in the Dakar Rally, non-stop Big Bash cricket, the One Day cricket series against England and a never-ending game of soccer on SBS.

I think I know why Donald Trump has three TVs in his bedroom.

Sadly, no matter how many screens there are (Seven has five at a time) most of us have only two eyes and two ears to consume it all.

And we don’t even have all those Pay-TV channels. I’m talking just Free-To-Air. To include  Pay-TV sport you’d have to warp the space/time continuum to take it all in.

This week it has been possible to watch sport non-stop from 7am to midnight, if you can stomach all the fast food ads, which is a little odd when you think about it. They should be advertising stuff such as No-Doz, walking aids, eyeball moisturiser and bum massagers.

Never before in the history of history has so much sporting history been made, shown, analysed and debated.

It has even – gasp – pushed our favourite show, What Donald Did Next, otherwise known as The News, to the background.

A survey commissioned by NBN last year found Australians were sucking in more broadcast sport than ever before. As a nation, we consume more than 60 million hours of sport each week, and that 3.4 million Australians spend at least one entire day at home each week watching sport.

It feels like we’ve had 60 million hours in just our home this week.

Mind you, it’s better than the mental fairy floss called reality TV.

How did all this start? Sometimes I think it must go back to ancient Roman times when someone added a T to the Roman motto SPQR: Senatus Populusque Romanus  - “The Senate and People of Rome"

They probably claimed the Tiber River as a SPQRT channel.

Sport of various kinds, including Aztecs playing a sort of basketball game with human heads, is found in the very earliest days of all known civilisations.

The word “sport” however, comes to us from the French word for leisure, desport. By the 1300s, it had swum across the English channel and became a word for “anything people find amusing”. One 14th century mention lists flirting as a sport. (Could that mean that The Bachelorette is sport?)

Sports keep growing faster than people can watch them. For example, in the first modern Olympics in 1896 there were just nine Olympic sports. There will be 33 at Tokyo in 2020. Some estimates say there are more than 8000 sports in the world.

Over the years there were many more which featured in the Olympics for a few years and then disappeared, such as live pigeon shooting and underwater swimming.

They were probably discontinued because of the problem of getting a paying audience interested. “Oh, good shot, Bertie. Right between the little blighter’s eyes.” Or: “Beneath that calm bit of water, Smith of Jamaica is creating a swimming sensation … we think.”

Alright, that’s enough for now. Nadal is about to serve, Smith is about to open, Lyon’s in a spin, and Greipel is about to have a heart attack.

WAYNE GREGSON