April 18, 2005

Boring Plus Sports

So, I'm trying to post more regularly. The problem I find with this is, I'm boring. For instance, this weekend I cleaned the house, did some writing, made macaroni and cheese, and invited DDK and the Ill n' P. over to eat said macaroni and cheese. The mac came out good, but the rugulach I made for desert fell apart during the baking process. Instead of a bite-sized pastry with a swirl of raspberry or chocolate --- imagine the love child of a Swiss Roll and piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch --- they went all "Salvadore Dali Presents: Rugulach" on me and melted together and wouldn't separate. Tasted ok, at least. Whenever I make pastry dough here it never comes out; maybe it's just time to admit I suck and start adding an egg yolk, recipe be damned. Or maybe it's that my crap-ass fridge just doesn't chill the dough enough so that it holds its shape.

See? See what I'm talking about? Not a single drunken monkey knife fight occurs in the above paragraph, a lack I find regrettable. And I not only typed the paragraph, I lived the sedate life it describes. Bo-ring.

So, what else is there to talk about? The big news here was the GAA repealing Rule 42 and maybe opening Croker. Translating one bit at a time:

The stadium in which big soccer and rugby matches are played, Lansdowne Road, is closing down soon for a couple year's worth of renovations. This left the soccer and rugby people kind of screwed; either they would have to play every big international match on the road for the next couple years, or they would have to find suitable accommodation here---and the only other stadium of international caliber in Ireland is Croke Park, which is run by the Gaelic Athletic Association and used for hurling and Gaelic football. (In point of fact, Croker is actually much nicer than Lansdowne, with 80,000 seats to Lansdowne's 55,000, and corporate boxes and fancy dining out the bling-bling).

You'd think this would be no big--- after all, it's not like the GAA was supposed to let them do this for free---but you'd be wrong. Because the GAA was founded, very deliberately, to preserve what its founders considered authentic, native Irish sports and culture and help combat the influence and popularity of so-called "foreign sports" in Ireland. (And where were Association Football and Rugger invented? That's right, kids, all together now: "England.") In fact, there was this whole rule---Rule 42---that GAA facilities could not be used for "foreign sports." Back in the day, in the more republican/patriotic parts of Ireland---Cork, for instance---GAA players were not only not allowed to play other sports, they weren't even supposed to watch them, and teams would send enforcers round to rugby and soccer matches to make sure nobody stepped out of line. Even today, there's a divide between GAA people and fans of other sports; a resentment to a degree exacerbated by the fact that soccer and rugby are more popular, especially with the young, than the G.A.A. Plus throw in the whole Bloody Sunday thing, and you've got a topic which is still a wee bit touchy.

So the upcoming stadium kerfluffle put the spotlight on a sensitive subject. There's been murmurings for years about revising Rule 42, but they hadn't really gone anywhere, and it seemed like they probably never would, as the membership of the G.A.A. council is so hidebound they make Queen Victoria look like Little Miss Roundheels. But the unique position the GAA found themselves in now, e.g., the move could be considered as a temporary measure, and if they said no all Ireland's big international matches would have to be played abroad rather than at home, put a lot of pressure on them. All this week the local boards were meeting and voting on the subject, in order to determine how their delegates would vote at the national conference---except for Cork, which were a big bunch of pussies and didn't vote---and most voted, by substantial majorities, to revise the rule. Excepting, of course, most of the counties in The North---being a fan of the GAA up there, in what is still a part of the U.K., goes hand in hand with thinking maybe up there shouldn't be a part of the U.K. no more. They take, therefore, a harder line.

So all week they were reporting on the votes, and all week there was the typical Irish giving out, speculating on how the Council were going to figure out a way to suppress the expressed will of the delegates and maintain the status quo---wise grey heads shook sadly when it was learned that the balloting was to be secret, and nodded again when it became known that a simple majority would not suffice, but rather a full 2/3rds in favor. And then the votes came out and it was 227 for repeal and 97 against, and the Irish sports media have spent the entire weekend patting themselves on the back, with many a commentator openly suggesting the decision marks a new era, proves a watershed, will have a ripple effect, etc.

Of course, there is one little matter yet to clear up...the Rugby and Soccer peeps have apparently been paying about 200,000 euro a match for the rights to Lansdowne; the GAA have been saying they're gonna ask for a cool mil, possibly more, to use Croker. So after all that I have a sneaking suspicion the Rugby and Soccer folk might walk away because they can't afford the fees. I can't tell if that's good or bad; after all, self-congratulation is a free resource, which all involved have been able to partake of amply....

Posted by Diablevert at April 18, 2005 06:27 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)