The way of the world

The sports industry is sometimes a rather insular one but if there were any doubts about the impact that world events can have on it, they have surely been shattered in the first quarter of the year.

31 August 2012 Michael Long

The sports industry is sometimes a rather insular one but if there were any doubts about the impact that world events can have on it, they have surely been shattered      And the world of sport’s reaction to the various unfolding crises has been interesting to observe. The political unrest in the Middle East is ongoing but it was the protests in Bahrain that impacted most on sport in the region, prompting as they did the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the scheduled opening race of the new Formula One season in March. Yes, the politics of the situation were fast moving and Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Management and the sport’s governing body, the FIA, found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place trying to predict events, but the dithering and mixed messages from the senior management of the sport before the Grand Prix was postponed made Formula One appear as blinkered to the outside world as critics had always believed it to be. The right decision was reached, but in the wrong way. February’s earthquake in Christchurch, meanwhile, and the trail of destruction in the city left the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the Rugby World Cup 2011 local organising committee with an awful dilemma: keep the seven tournament games scheduled for Christchurch in the city, despite the damage to the stadium and surrounding infrastructure, and to use them as a way of uniting a shattered community; or accept that the damage was     )  for elsewhere. In the end, pragmatism ruled; the damage was too great and there was also concern that a focus on repairing the stadium in time would distract from the much-needed repair effort elsewhere in the city. The IRB, though, should take great credit in the way they reacted, as should the local organisers in New Zealand: after some early concerns, the signs are that the country is preparing a wonderful tournament where, be assured, the people of Christchurch will be remembered. Just a few weeks later, of course, Japan was hit by its own earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami and then fears over radiation leaks from damaged nuclear plants. In the weeks since, every sporting event of note, wherever the location, has paid tribute to the many victims and many fundraising efforts have begun to assist the mammoth relief operation. One stands out. Ryo Ishikawa is a 19-year-old golfer from Japan who, after a string of notable performances in his homeland, is now a regular at the major events around the world. His playing credentials are without question K      8Š       a tournament in Japan – but in announcing he will donate every dollar of prize money he earns throughout 2011 he has displayed a maturity and perspicacity far beyond his years. When asked about his kindness, the man known in his homeland as the Bashful Prince said simply: “I have enough money.” Last year he made US$1.1 million in tournament winnings; this year he hopes to break US$1.5 million, and he has no qualms about giving up every penny. As %  ” prepares next month to name the world’s 50 most marketable athletes, a list on which Ishikawa appeared at number 27 in 2010, it is heartening, amidst an industry so often pockmarked by backbiting and dispute, to see that one of sport’s youngest and brightest prospects has his head well and truly screwed on. Forgive the partiality, but we wish Ishikawa the most successful of seasons. THE WAY OF THE WORLD 8 2011 05 David Cushnan {filedir_26}SportsProMag_issue32_8.pdf [26373] [sportspro_may_2011] SportsPro May 2011