Back in July, on the day that the FIFA World Cup and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships ended, I speculated that the summer of sport had pretty much come to an end. I was wrong. There have been weekends since then when we have watched more sport on more screens than ever before.
It kicked off with the European Championships in early August, while we were away in Ireland. We took an interest in the swimming from Glasgow to begin with. Other sports featured over the following ten days in this very enjoyable competition, divided between two host cities (Glasgow and Berlin). At the same time the Women’s Hockey World Cup was reaching its conclusion here in London. Ireland reached the final and lost to the Netherlands, as noted here. On the day of the final we were also paying attention to the Gaelic Games, with Limerick and Galway winning their Hurling Semi-Finals, and the rather complicated Gaelic Football round-robin system finally confirmed the last four in that competition. I was even able to catch the second half of the first Leeds United game of the new football season on our ferry back to the UK from Rosslare. That was a bonus. I didn’t expect Sky Sports to be available on the boat. Leeds beat Stoke City 3-1.
Then, for most of the next week, we followed various events in the European Championships (including diving, gymnastics, and triathlon), through to the conclusion of the athletics, from Berlin, on Sunday 12 August. Most of the previous day (Saturday 11th) was spent watching sport, from the BMX heats in Glasgow in the morning through to Dina Asher-Smith’s 200m win in Berlin that evening. The BMX heats might have passed us by (they were on the BBC’s Red Button rather than a regular channel) but a report on BBC Breakfast alerted me to them. I woke my son (who has become a keen BMX-er over the last year) to watch them. One of the competitors (not a finalist this time round) is coached by one of coaches at his club, so we had added interest in what was going on. The finals were broadcast on a regular BBC channel at lunch-time. The men’s final was a real treat, with GB winning gold and silver (Kyle Evans and Kye Whyte respectively).
As the afternoon progressed we did leave the house for an hour but I was following the events from Lord’s, England’s cricket team heading towards a winning position against India thanks to an unbeaten debut hundred for Chris Woakes. Then, from 5.30pm, I was back on the football, a comfortable 4-1 win for Leeds at Derby, live on Sky. At one stage, between 7 and 8pm, I was doing a good impression of a sport obsessive, keeping an eye of four different competitions in a variety of ways: cricket highlights on TV (Channel 5), Leeds United live on Sky (on the laptop), Dublin beating Galway in the All-Ireland Semi-Final (Gaelic Football, on another Sky channel on my phone) and athletics from Berlin (BBC1) during the ad-breaks on Channel 5. It was all rather overwhelming but after 8pm we were, thankfully, back to just one event, the European Championship athletics.
Last Sunday (2 September) was similar, with football, cricket and Gaelic Football filling an almost unbroken 7-hour stretch, though we did sit down for lunch as a family at 1pm. The schedule went something like this:
- 11am till 1pm, 1.40pm till 3.40pm, 4pm till 5.20pm England v India (Test Match cricket from the Rose Bowl Southampton, England won by 60 runs, to win the 5-match series).
- 12 noon till 2pm, intermittently, Celtic 1 Rangers 0 (Scottish Premiership Football).
- 1.30pm till 3.30pm Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3 (English Premier League football).
- 3.30pm till 5.20pm Dublin 2-17 Tyrone 1-14 (All-Ireland Football Final). [This year the All-Ireland Finals, Hurling last month and Football last weekend, were brought forward by a few weeks because of the Papal Visit.]
- 5.20pm till 6pm Watford 2 Spurs 1 (English Premier League football again).
Once again, a laptop, a phone and a TV screen kept us up-to-date with multiple games. When the final whistle went at Vicarage Road, 45 minutes after Dublin had won their 4th All-Ireland title in a row at Croke Park, I figured that the big summer of sport really has come to an end.