Can I have Grandstand or World of Sport back please?
The older I get, it would appear, the more I seem to long for the days of my youth.
Some of what I am about to say will not make any sense to anyone under the age of about 30.
But those a little older than that will surely have an opinion!
My basic argument is going to be this: Sky Sport is bad for sport.
But before you try and jump down my throat, let me ask you this question: How many of you sat around as a family and watched the FA Cup Final?
I didn’t and I must admit that I don’t know many who did.
Let’s forget the argument about the fact that for some ludicrous TV scheduling reason or other the game didn’t kick off at 3pm.
Let’s also forget for a moment the fact that not only was it not the last game of the season it was also not , ridiculously, the only game being played on that day.
And also before you try and jump down my throat for a second time, let’s ignore the fact that the game was actually broadcast on what one of my friend’s affectionately refers to as “council telly”.
My argument persists that Sky Sports have effectively killed-off the FA Cup and in the process belittled Wigan’s excellent achievement in winning it for the first time.
In the days of my youth, the FA Cup was THE television spectacle for football fans.
It lasted all day, usually starting with an FA Cup Final “Question of Sport” or “It’s a Knockout”, moving on to the goalkeeper getting his “lucky” haircut three hours and 43 minutes before kick-off; moving on to the helicopter following the teams from their hotels; the players waking on the pitch; Abide With Me and then, the big game itself.
All that build-up made it special.
But what made it equally special was the fact that we were about to watch a live game of football – a very rare thing indeed right from my first taste of the Wembley extravanganza to very recent times.
You could also get live football in World Cup Finals and European Championship Finals. But not the qualifiers – you usually had to wait for “Sportsnight with Coleman” to actually see anything from the game.
Those days have now gone, and I mourn them.
Now, if you choose to, you can be force-fed football morning, noon and night.
I used to joke with a colleague “what are you watching tonight, Peruvian Sunday League?”. He would have been doing, given the chance.
But not me, too much live football on television actually deadens my appetite for the real thing.
My own son has football on his television just about every time we visit, but it is in the background, there just because it can be and, once the 3D novelty wore off, largely ignored.
How can that be good for the game we all love?
In have never understood Soccer Saturday or whatever it is called, nor the BBC’s Final Score on the red button.
What does either offer that cannot be as easily accessed by tuning in to, for instance, BBC Radio 5 Live and freeing yourself from the shackles of your armchair?
I also miss the delights of “World of Sport” and “Grandstand” .
I have an understanding of some “minor” sports just because I used to tune in to both of these excellent “magazine” programmes which were freely available and lasted all Saturday afternoon.
I miss Sunday League cricket; I mourn the fact that not every F1 Grand Prix is on the BBC and neither is the Challenge Cup Final.
All have, to one extent or another, sold their sporting souls to Sky TV.
And that, I believe, in the long run is bad for sport.
For those who cannot afford the Sky subscription, the chance to see sporting heroes on the television has all but disappeared.
Without that opportunity to see the dream in action, some of the incentive, especially for young and aspiring players, has all but disappeared with it.
You only have to look at local amateur sport to see my point.
Saturday League football in Burnley is a thing of the past and the Sunday League needs a serious leg up before it ends up as a side-show to Soccer Sunday.
The same is true of cricket with no local league to speak of and even the death of the Midweek League.
Can all that be blamed on Sky Sport - probably not, but that won’t stop me!