Sensationalism is now an ever-present in sports coverage – it is just a shame when the stories unravel just a little too easily.
The final weekend at Wimbledon 2016 proved to be the perfect example – in some quarters it was reported as the best sporting event ever!
Of course it is all in essence hyperbole – strings of exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
However, it is never admitted it is just hyperbole as many experts and pundits seem to actually want their outpourings to be treated as having some gravitas.
The BBC don’t help as, now the annual tennis jamboree in SW19 is one of the few sporting events they have left, they seem hellbent on whipping everything up into a frenzy.
Then, as much of the media follow suit, the snowballing excitement leads to some very interesting claims.
The first outbreak followed Serena Williams victory in the women’s singles and umpteen varying news outlets proclaimed it a record-breaking feat.
Sadly it was only actually a record equalling feat as Serena had won her 22nd Grand Slam women’s singles title, matching the record of Germany’s blonde bombshell Steffi Graf.
Tug on the thread a little more and it turns out that the all-time record for Grand Slam singles wins still belongs to Australian ace Margaret Court.
Apparently some pundits prefer not to include Court as she won some of her 24 titles before the start of the ‘open’ era in 1968 – in a similar fashion to football writers of a certain age who seem to ignore Football League titles won before the advent of the Premier League.
The next claim was that it was the greatest ever performance by British players at Wimbledon as five wins were registered.
Andy Murray took the men’s singles, Heather Watson picked up the mixed doubles trophy and there were successes for Gordon Reid, Alfie Hewett and Jordanne Whiley in the wheelchair events.
These are great successes and notable achievements, but it had to be taken too far in some quarters where it was
reported that this eclipsed the victories of Wimbledon 1936.
I certainly do not want to belittle the latest achievements, but surely it is impossible to compare eras when three of this weekend’s wins were in events that did not exist back in the Thirties.
In 1936 Fred Perry won the men’s singles and mixed doubles with Dorothy Round, Pat Hughes and Raymond Tuckey won the men’s doubles in an all-British final, and Freda James and Kay Stammers won the women’s doubles.
But for America’s Helen Jacobs winning the women’s singles, there was little more the British contingent of that year could have achieved.
So does the 2016 effort really match up to that? To be honest I feel it is impossible to compare – so why do it!
However, the most outrageous claim by far was perpetrated by the Beeb in their unrelenting propaganda-fuelled drive to make tennis Britain’s popular sport.
They posed the question, with two Wimbledon wins, ‘Is Andy Murray the greatest British sportsman of all-time?’
Admittedly they did provide other modern day candidates, but to claim someone is superior to all other athletes across an open timescale is one heck of a stretch.
For a start just asking is Murray the best British tennis player ever is a bit of a push.
In a head-to-head pitted against the aforementioned Mr Perry of Stockport, the tally is Murray two Wimbledon wins and one US Open for a total of three Grand Slam victories to Fred’s three Wimbledon titles, three US Open wins, plus successes at the French and Australian Opens which adds up to eight Grand Slams.
And as the question stipulated ‘all-time’ naff arguments about ‘open’ eras can be instantly binned.
But the claim was Murray has become best sportsman – that truly opens up a can of worms.
How can you compare sport against sport, or success in a team scenario against those who compete as individuals?
It certainly makes for a good pub argument and just to get you started I would like to suggest a former Manchester City player as the greatest British sportsman of all-time.
Max Woosnam was born in Liverpool in 1892 and his sporting roll of honour covers everything from team sports, to indoor and outdoor individual sports – and all this with international honours thrown in.
Among Woosnam’s achievements were winning gold and silver medals for tennis at the 1920 Olympics, winning the doubles at Wimbledon, captaining the British Davis Cup team, compiling a 147 break in snooker, scoring a century playing cricket at Lord’s, captaining Manchester City when the club were runners-up for the Football League in 1920–21 and captaining the England national football team as he won his only cap in 1922.
Surely a perfect candidate – and there is even quite a lot of tennis on his CV to keep the BBC happy.
The Euros are over – but only on the playing front
Controversy reigns as many issues have caught the imagination in a way the football arguably didn’t.
Portugal are generally being slated for not being worthy winners as they only won one game inside 90 minutes in the whole tournament.
In the ‘Team of the tournament’ many were left stunned by the exclusion of Welsh star Gareth Bale
The Germans were unhappy that too many ‘little’ nations got to play in the expanded finals.
And despite the valiant efforts of such ‘little’ nations as Wales and Iceland, the tournament as a whole has been labelled as boring.
However, the craziest controversy of all has emerged on a French internet site.
Disgruntled French fans have started an online petition to have the Euro 2016 final replayed.
The petition was started on July 11 on mesopinions.com and has been signed by 95,453 people at the time of writing.
That would almost be enough signatures to get the petition debated in Parliament had it been started through the UK government’s equivalent site.
Strangely it remains unclear on just what grounds this mass of fuming French football fans feel the match deserves to be replayed.
Who knew they cared so much and what happened to just shrugging ones shoulders and saying ‘Bof!’?