This afternoon, I have been listening to the biggest event in world sport at the moment. No, not Wimbledon, nor the Tour de France which starts on Saturday. It is, instead, Guernsey 2003, the latest and tenth incarnation of the every-other-year NatWest Island Games. There are fifteen sports in this year's competition and 23 islands from around the world are taking part, from Greenland and Iceland in the north, through separate teams from the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the Isle of Man, Ynys Mon (the Isle of Anglesey), the Isle of Wight, separate teams from each of the Channel Islands, sundry Scandinavian islands and down to St. Helena and the Falkland Islands from the Southern Hemisphere. (akahannah, the Western Isles are set to join the association later in the year.) The constitution notes a resident population limit of 125,000 inhabitants, so Australia can't come in and pound the minnows.
There's a really good radio station dedicated to the Games called Island Games FM which you can follow online. All the DJs are ever so enthusiastic about the events and they're obviously having bags of fun. They play all sorts of music from time to time, from The Beatles and Smokey Robison to J. Lo's wannabe-gangsta rap. Everyone is ever so enthusiastic about it and it's a bundle of fun to listen to. The standard of competition isn't hugely high - people were getting excited about the men's pole vault bar reaching 3.80 metres, compared to Sergey Bubka's six metres plus; you also get blowouts from time to time, like (as ericklendl pointed out) the Sark men's (association) football team losing its four games (against those well-known powerhouse teams Gibraltar, Isle of Wight, Greenland and Froya) by a combined margin of 70-0. Sark did pick up a silver in the Clay Target Automatic Ball Trap Team shooting, though. Second of 13, before you ask.
It's not the same as live TV coverage, but the radio is more than adequate, considering the resources, and the results web site is really very good considering the evident budget of the event. The mainstream sporting media are missing out on this and it's a real shame. The best web site about multi-sport festivals at large is www.internationalgames.net - July is a packed month with the South Pacific Games in Fiji, the Great Outdoor Games (ESPN's X-Games-a-like for lumberjackin', fishin', dog-racin' and shootin'), the FISEC Games (Catholic schoolkids from 14 to 17), the World Transplant Games and the World Police and Fire Games taking us through the month. They've all got a very high standard to live up to. Forget the Olympics, these little events are much more fun. :-)