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Lone Wolf and gentlemen starting their engines


As this is Christmas and the time for corny and mildly risqué jokes we can perhaps get away with this one:

Q - What's the Aussie version of foreplay?


A - "Are you awake Sheila?"

OK, OK, Wolf won't be appearing at the Comedy Store any time soon but apart from poor jokes and even worse delivery there is a slightly more serious message here.

On the importance (and continuing theme) of professional sport being seen as entertainment we have come to the conclusion that far too many sports, including our own, still don't get it. But some do.

The build-up, the warm-up has become an integral part of televised sports such as boxing, football and even (or especially darts). Motorbike racing, and others, are still making do with the Aussie version!

Now some of our readers might not consider darts as a sport; others might say that it is not that different from throwing the javelin, an Olympic sport! What is undeniable is that this practice of throwing arrows with amazing accuracy, hardly a barrel of thrills, has been rescued from virtual extinction by a promoter, Barry Hearn, and Sky Sports television, together with thousands of spectators quaffing pints of lager, into an entertainment extravaganza. And they have built pudgy northerner, Phil 'The Power' Taylor, into a household name!

Big-time boxing turns the weigh-in into something often more interesting than the event itself. It employs two professional build-up merchants, Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon Jr, who are more famous, and probably paid more, than many of the boxers.

What has this got to do with the price of fish I hear you asking - those of you who are still with me, that is. Well we do have some sort of build-up to the various championships but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. And at the meetings there is a warm-up lap. Big deal.

The simple facts are these: The racing itself may sometimes be exciting but, as we know, that is not always the case. The various authorities are making belated attempts to fix this. Better late than never but, of course, it is not something totally in their control.

What is In their control is everything surrounding the racing, the build-up to the event, presentation on the day including the presenters. The command at the start of the start of a NASCAR event, 'Gentlemen start your engines' may seem corny, but it works.


They should give the media more of what it feeds on, that includes controversy which may mean encouraging riders to open their mouths - not keep them shut.

So Mr Promoter think on this: Fans, the most important people, spend a few hours a month watching your sport. They spend an equal amount of time at your circuit waiting for something to happen.They spend ten times that amount of time thinking about it or reading about it before they ever watch the race itself.

Presentation, conditioning, packaging is as important as the event itself. Think about it.



Star quality is indefinable. And yet there can be no doubt that Valentino Rossi has it. Casey Stoner doesn't. It is also rare and therefore valuable.

In John Hopkins the British Superbike Championship had a star. Not in the Rossi category - no one is - but a class act from MotoGP who, while recovering from self-inflicted problems, remained more than capable of holding his own at any level. He endeared himself to British fans by joining in, being personable and available, being a fighter - and not whinging.

His return to the world stage was inevitable but it does leave a big hole. BSB could do with a star and wonderful though Tommy Hill was in his spine-tingling last lap victory, the series was made by Hopkins.

The shortage of young British riders capable of winning a Superbike race is painfully obvious and without an overseas wild card of high quality, preferably not a has-been Haga fans please note, the title will go to riders with the surnames of Hill, Byrne, Brookes or Laverty.

Last year will be a hard act to follow.

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