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December 9th, 2002

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03:47 am - I wanna be a winner
Very seasonal little awards show this year. Further commentary on the subject of the Sports Personality of the Year would only really make sense if you've already read my first entry on the subject, so I shall hide the rest (including the other things I meant to say first time, but forgot) within.

There can probably be very little argument with Paula Radcliffe's victory this year. It turns out that she went 5/5, not 4/4, winning the World Cross-Country championships at the start of the year as well as her victories on the track and on the road. She had a total of 619,577 votes to second-place David Beckham's 113,539. The interesting thing is that the BBC claimed that they received over a million votes, so we can do some arithmetic here. The first three places in total garnered 821,088 votes. We can assume that fourth-and-fifth placed Jonny Wilkinson and Lennox Lewis earned fewer votes than McCoy, so we can estimate something like 900,000 to 990,000 votes for the five overall. This gives us somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 minimum votes cast before the big night. We don't know exactly how many, because we don't know the total voting figures other than "over a million". However, I suspect the figures will not have been particularly high either here or for the Greatest Britons poll.

Incidentally, Paula only earned a sitting ovation at the end of the show. I can remember there having been standing ovations for winners in the past. Do we conclude that (a) Paula is felt to be less outstanding a winner than those of past years by her peers, (b) the BBC floor manager responsible spoke against it or (c) my memory is dubious? Quite possibly two or even three of those could be accurate simulataneously!

The other choices were slightly more controversial. I can't help feeling that instead of having Arsene Wenger as coach of the year and the European Ryder Cup twelve as team of the year, it would probably have been more fitting to crown Sam ("let's play our best players at the start of the singles") Torrance individually and Arsenal collectively. Still, it was nice to see that the award for "coach of the year" was decided upon by a panel and the panellists' names - auspicious ones, at that - were made public. Wayne Rooney was a questionable choice for Young Personality, being ill at ease in the surroundings, chewing gum throughout and mumbling a one-word acceptance speech. The media look down on such things. Charlotte Kerwood, who won the Commonwealth Games gold medal for ladies' double trap shooting at a shooting-record youngest age of fifteen, would have been a far better choice if it weren't for the fact that it could be thought irresponsible to encourage youngsters to shoot - even clays for sport.

It might be interesting to consider whether the frequency with which sports' stars are recognised relative to one another could be used as a barometer for the relative popularity of sports to one another. It wouldn't give the same results as net attendance figures (a million attending football matches each weekend, athletics events seldom attract more than a few thousand) but there's got to be something there. The BBC's sport section sets up a three-level structure, paying most attention to a top nine of football, cricket, both rugby codes, tennis, golf, motorsport, boxing and athletics, with an "other sports" ghetto focusing on a second five of Horse Racing, Snooker, Sailing, Cycling and "US Sport". Admittedly there are sporadic stories in squash, badminton, swimming, (field) hockey, winter sports and the like too, but a definite third division. There are many fine sports which do not even make it that far, alas.

What I'd like to see in future years would be an award - at least an unofficial one - for the best and worst pieces of commentary over the past year. Dougie "not Howser, MD" Donnelly would probably have won this year's for his earnest attempts with the women's curling semi-final and final at the Olympics. It's somehow fitting that the BBC's fourth-choice reserve presenter/host should get his chance to shine in the sun just as curling has done. Curling is probably a game which lends itself well to memorable commentary as the stone slides down the ice, too. Will (from the semi-final) "Here it comes... this is the one!" and (from the final) "You will never see a better stone under greater pressure" be curling's "They think it's all over... it is now!"? Only time will tell. (There were some bloopers on this year's show, but they had redubbed commentary, which rather spoiled the effect.)

I'd also like to see mind sports get recognition like physical ones, but I doubt that even Michael Adams winning the world chess championship, a British team winning bridge's Bermuda Bowl or a Briton winning $2 million in next year's World Series of Poker would be enough to merit a mention, more's the pity. It would earn a write-in vote from me, but probably not many others.

Despite all the misgivings, the Sports Personality of the Year remains a very entertaining review. It's nice to see such a prominent audience gathered all together; it's nice also to get a recap on some of the year's biggest tunes. It's also nice that the show reliably overruns by about 15 to 20 minutes every year, to the point where they put "may overrun" into the TV listings. Wouldn't it just be more convenient all round to schedule the show for its real length?

So what next for Paula Radcliffe? She revealed on the show that she would be running in the 2003 London marathon and one of the track events at the World Championship as well. However, she hasn't signed up for the Flora 1000 Miles Challenge. This is ultra-long-distance endurance running with a twist - the one thousand miles must be travelled no more than one mile an hour for a thousand hours, a shade under six weeks. (In practice, this will mean a hundred-minute sleep followed by two miles in twenty minutes, ten either side of the hour mark.) The pay is good - six pounds a mile, so a shade over a thousand pounds a week. Make it through six weeks and earn another thousand pounds to go up to 7k; hour 1001 onwards will be engaged in running the London Marathon, just for fun. (Complete miles 1001 to 1026-and-a-bit within seven hours to win eight thousand pounds, and there are bonuses for the first man and woman among the six contenders to complete the whole operation. It's like a 24/7 game show, except that it isn't being shown on television. (Or is it? We shall see.)

Connecting television shows and awards programmes, the quite-good-these-days Challenge ? TV channel held a set of game show awards late last century. I wasn't far from London at the time and nearly ended up going and fanboying the hosts from outside the theatre, except that I didn't have enough information about what exactly was going to happen when and where to be confident about going. (It would have been very sad, too, if I had been the only fanboy there fanboying.) Unfortunately the game show awards proved to be a one-off, so it doesn't look like I'll ever get a chance to be a game show awards show fanboy. You never know, though!

Unrelated thought: how would one organise a competition to see who has the best sense of balance - a World Balance Championships, if you like? Would it an interesting sort of competition to hold or to watch?

Another unrelated thought: bootup time has lengthened already. One guess as to the major suspect - that dratted RealOne Player. Prime95 offers an option to automatically start processing once the boot process has completed - or, specifically, 90 seconds after the start of the boot process. Once bootup has finished, it tells you how long the program needs to wait before the 90 seconds are up; effectively, this provides a way to time the boot process. If anything else slows down the boot process unduly, I shall keep you informed.
Current Mood: sported up
Current Music: ALL STAR BLITZ! (habba hum, habba heema humma)

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 11:17 am (UTC)


All incarnations of RealPlayer are evil and wrong. I never install it at home. My Win2K box at home is plagued by RealPlayer which spends its life trying to upgrade itself and refuses to let me uninstall it.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 01:25 pm (UTC)

Re: RealOne

Agreed. RealOne is indeed Evil, Bad and Wrong. After I installed it, it was forever popping up annoying messages that I couldn't get rid of. I shall be avoiding it like the plague on my new machine.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 04:36 pm (UTC)

Re: RealOne

I agree with you both and would happily drop-kick all Real solutions to infinity and beyond, but as missingdonut says, there's too much good stuff available already in Real to ignore. I have looked for Real->!Real converters in the past and not found anything more convincing-looking than this, which I haven't yet tried out. You'd think that Real didn't want punters to convert music from .ra to non-proprietary formats, or something. (I also have a relatively large amount of .mp3s, though I know they are a lot less cool than .ogg files. Or something.) It's a shame, because it would be rather nice to transfer lots of game show .ra files into something a bit more .mp3-ish and then run, say, a Shoutcast internet radio station with lots of game show theme tunes. Hinty hinty.

The situation with video is probably even worse, tubby honest. RealVideo is lousy. Apple's free QuickTime player is lousy. DivX is not bad, but I remember it being harder than it should be to find a DivX player which doesn't install Gator Advert Hell onto your PC. I vaguely remember something to do with mpeg4, but don't know the details. AVI is ridiculously large. Windows video in various formats is probably the least worst of the bunch at the moment, but I don't like the prospect of tieing myself down to something with Microsoft on it.

(Deleted comment)
Date:December 10th, 2002 05:50 am (UTC)

Only trouble is...

You need to have a Real Player installed to play the file in the first place :-(

[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 12:20 pm (UTC)
I work on a Mac and I have once attempted to install RealPlayer. The end result being my computer actually reached out and slapped me. Hard.

In terms of balance, would you have categories and competitions or just 3 guys standing on one foot for a long time? If I could suggest the Head Top Book Balance, in which evey competitor must walk with a book on his/her head for a predetermined distance. The number, size, content, and structure of the books vary according to gender, intellect, size, and round.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 04:42 pm (UTC)
Your Mac has excellent taste.

I would imagine a variety of balance-related disciplines, but probably one overall competition rather than separate championships for balancing on 1 foot, on 1 arm, on 1 finger, on 0 limbs and so forth.

I also somehow want to test contestants' abilities to balance after we have disoriented them spectacularly in multiple directions, but that's because I think it'd be funny. It would be somewhere between "Whirl 'Til You Hurl" (Australian radio stunt about marathon roller-coaster riding) and "Is Joe Normal Better Than Joe 90?" (TV stunt in which people were spun round in a chair in the style of the little-known superhero puppet show and then had to walk ten metres in a straight line and hit a Big Red Button within ten seconds).
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2002 12:37 pm (UTC)
Yarg. I hate RealPlayer, and have had to struggle to tame it each time I upgrade. I found this quasi-nice attachment for Winamp (Tara, I think it's called) and it barely crashes less often than RealPlayer (I use v8).

The only reason I use it is because it's a standard among what I use it for... most game show sites with video use RealPlayer... but it doesn't mean I can't hate it.

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