Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are? Opinion John Old It has often been suggested that the reason why While fans of two wheels can see many people take up golf in middle age is because it is the one sport where you can still entertain the resemblance between their own delusion of being in possession of a rare, if untrained, machines and those ridden by stars, talent that, if properly nurtured, or simply discovered, in F1 the stars are now piloting the could lead to competition at the highest level. With the purely athletic sports such as running and equivalent of spacecraft swimming you can become disillusioned almost before you are old enough to develop illusions in the first place, while any code of football is a cruel instructor that middle-aged decrepitude sets in much earlier than most non-sporting types would believe. But for how much longer? While fans of two wheels In tennis and cricket you can last that little bit can see resemblances between their own machines longer, especially if you can convince yourself that and those ridden by stars at the top of their sports guile rather then physical power is the key to success (look at Superbikes), in F1 the stars are now piloting (be a spin bowler or wicket keeper if you really want the equivalent of spacecraft. The technology and to kid yourself). engineering seem to have more to do with computing But golf, it’s said, is the one major sport where you than with the internal combustion engine. And this can fool yourself deep into middle or even old age. disconnection seems to grow greater year on year. Unless, of course, you’ve played it since youth and Efforts by the sport’s governing body to curb the have the torment of a rising handicap. impact of advancing technology and create a ‘level There is another sport, however, indeed a whole playing field’ seem to have had the perverse effect of range of sports, where the older you are the more you accentuating the part played by ever more ingenious can convince yourself that whatever the years may applications of esoteric science. have taken away in terms of agility, eyesight and so Does it matter? Not if as a governing body you feel on, they have given back in wisdom and skill. That, of you are marketing something to Hollywood movies, course, is motorsport. The remarkable sight of middle- complete with CGIs, product placement and stars with aged and older men strapping themselves into leathers impossibly remote and glamorous lifestyles. or spine-challenging sports cars is often attributed to a But if you believe that the long-term health of your Freudian compensation for failing powers. But surely sport – or product, if you must – depends on some there is an additional, if not exactly alternative, identification of the fan with the performers, then explanation: just as the most desperate park today’s success may be transitory. “Who do you think sportsman still occasionally believes his alter ego is you are – Stirling Moss?” still has a resonance. Could Wayne Rooney or Shane Warne and the old rocker or the same be said for any current driver? karaoke king may still be waiting for their big break, the ageing petrolhead feels he is still engaged, however distantly, in the same sport as the superstars John Old is a freelance economist, writer and on two or four wheels. management consultant. l l 4 International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship APRIL 2008 OPINION http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1464-6668
DOI
10.1108/IJSMS-09-03-2008-B003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Opinion John Old It has often been suggested that the reason why While fans of two wheels can see many people take up golf in middle age is because it is the one sport where you can still entertain the resemblance between their own delusion of being in possession of a rare, if untrained, machines and those ridden by stars, talent that, if properly nurtured, or simply discovered, in F1 the stars are now piloting the could lead to competition at the highest level. With the purely athletic sports such as running and equivalent of spacecraft swimming you can become disillusioned almost before you are old enough to develop illusions in the first place, while any code of football is a cruel instructor that middle-aged decrepitude sets in much earlier than most non-sporting types would believe. But for how much longer? While fans of two wheels In tennis and cricket you can last that little bit can see resemblances between their own machines longer, especially if you can convince yourself that and those ridden by stars at the top of their sports guile rather then physical power is the key to success (look at Superbikes), in F1 the stars are now piloting (be a spin bowler or wicket keeper if you really want the equivalent of spacecraft. The technology and to kid yourself). engineering seem to have more to do with computing But golf, it’s said, is the one major sport where you than with the internal combustion engine. And this can fool yourself deep into middle or even old age. disconnection seems to grow greater year on year. Unless, of course, you’ve played it since youth and Efforts by the sport’s governing body to curb the have the torment of a rising handicap. impact of advancing technology and create a ‘level There is another sport, however, indeed a whole playing field’ seem to have had the perverse effect of range of sports, where the older you are the more you accentuating the part played by ever more ingenious can convince yourself that whatever the years may applications of esoteric science. have taken away in terms of agility, eyesight and so Does it matter? Not if as a governing body you feel on, they have given back in wisdom and skill. That, of you are marketing something to Hollywood movies, course, is motorsport. The remarkable sight of middle- complete with CGIs, product placement and stars with aged and older men strapping themselves into leathers impossibly remote and glamorous lifestyles. or spine-challenging sports cars is often attributed to a But if you believe that the long-term health of your Freudian compensation for failing powers. But surely sport – or product, if you must – depends on some there is an additional, if not exactly alternative, identification of the fan with the performers, then explanation: just as the most desperate park today’s success may be transitory. “Who do you think sportsman still occasionally believes his alter ego is you are – Stirling Moss?” still has a resonance. Could Wayne Rooney or Shane Warne and the old rocker or the same be said for any current driver? karaoke king may still be waiting for their big break, the ageing petrolhead feels he is still engaged, however distantly, in the same sport as the superstars John Old is a freelance economist, writer and on two or four wheels. management consultant. l l 4 International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship APRIL 2008 OPINION

Journal

International Journal of Sports Marketing and SponsorshipEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 1, 2008

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