Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Putting sport into perspective

More important than games
There was a lot of fuss in some sections of the news recently about runner Mo Farah having problems because someone pushing a child's buggy in the park where Mo was trying to train wouldn't get off the path to keep out of Mo's way.

Now I'm sure Mo is a nice guy, and was very polite, and there certainly shouldn't have been the fight that ensued. But I also am sure that the media outrage that poor old Mo had to suffer so much by not having the path to himself because of this unreasonable father was ridiculous.

Let's get the picture in perspective. Mo is very good at a game, the playground game of 'Who can run fastest?' He's one of the best people in the world at this particular game, and that's lovely for him. But compared with keeping a baby or toddler safe, it is a totally worthless activity. It's fine in its place. If he had been training on a running track and the father and started pushing his pushchair round the track, then of course Mo would have had every right to ask him to get out of the way. But this was a public park, paid for by public money so the public could enjoy using it for, say, pushing prams - not a sports training facility. And for that matter, feet are much better at getting along on grass off the path than buggies are. If anyone was going to get out of the way, it should have been Mo.

When our twins were young we had a double buggy and quite often it would be difficult to get along the footpath because some idiot had parked on the pavement far enough in that there was quite a narrow gap between the car and a wall or a hedge. Well, I'm sorry, again the children came first. Rather than go into the road, I would happily scrape my buggy along the side of their car, bash into their wing mirror and generally be as vigorous as possible, because I was in the right place and the car wasn't, and because babies matter more than cars.

So don't ask me to have any sympathy for Mo. He did not have priority because he was the 'big I am' sportsperson. In the right place - and this was the right place - children should always come first.

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