Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
©INPHO/Donall Farmer Keano the pundit is under the spotlight this weekend.
# Sportswriting
The tale of Jean-Pierre Adams and disproving your own beliefs; this week’s best sportswriting
This week’s most enjoyable reads include an examination of the state of UFC and Jonathan Wilson’s Sunderland-based concerns.

1. “On 17 March 1982, the former France international footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, at the age of 34, was admitted to a Lyon hospital to undergo a routine knee operation. He was given anaesthetic that should have knocked him out for a few hours but, more than 30 years later, he has yet to awake.”

And so starts the incredible story of the man who has spent most of his life unconscious, written by Robin Bairner. This is about far more than sport; this is a tale that goes beyond love and devotion.

2. “While the UFC promotes itself as a successor to boxing, it’s in fact an evolutionary variant of something that is, at its core, a kind of confidence game. Boxing, as ugly and corrupt as it can be, is a sport that involves a great deal of athletic spectacle. Fighting, at least as presently sold, is the precise opposite, a contrived spectacle based mainly on what can be sold to whom that almost incidentally happens to involve a sport.”

Writing for Deadspin, Tim Marchman examines the UFC in its present state, using the recent card which included Ronda Rousey and Daniel Cormier as the framework.

3. “I’ll be there on Sunday, though, assuming my accreditation comes through for Sunderland’s fifth final (including play-offs) in my lifetime. I fully anticipate a fifth defeat. To be honest, the thought of victory terrifies me: what if we do win and it doesn’t feel as good as I hope it will? What if we do win and I realise, as my dad did at the final whistle in 1973, that football will never be as good again? It horrifies me as well that my dad then was three years younger than I am now. How did that happen?”

The maestro Jonathan Wilson gets personal as he looks forward to [that's probably the wrong phrase] his beloved Sunderland playing in the League Cup final this afternoon.

4. ”If you believe something to be true, you absolutely have to set out to disprove it, because otherwise you become the scientific (or coaching) equivalent of a television informercial, which gathers the life-changing testimonies of many who have succeeded after trying Product X, and offers them as ‘conclusive evidence’ or proof.  And we can start by seeking people for whom X does not work.”

The excellent Ross Tucker (@Scienceofsport) outlines why we must set about disproving our beliefs, rather that seeking to prove them. This possible goes beyond sport in a very different way to the first article on this list.

5. “Keane was also compulsive viewing because you never quite knew when his temper would get the better of him, when his desire to succeed (or gain revenge on Alf-Inge Haaland) would lead to a meltdown of discipline and a momentary abandonment of team responsibilities that inevitably brought another furrow to the brow of a sorely tested Sir Alex Ferguson.”

Paul Wilson of The Guardian examines why Roy Keane makes a fascinating TV pundit.

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6. “Confused? I hope not, because that’s not the end of it. Coaches are working on endless variations and just when you think you’ve mastered the signals and signs – depending on where Cole stood, I knew what England were up to; not that that’s any use now – something different comes up.”

This piece is actually from last week, with a view towards the England vs. Ireland Six Nations clash, but Dean Ryan’s study of the Irish maul is still relevant.

Feel free to post links to some of the excellent sportswriting you read this week…

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