Belfast Telegraph

Why it's taken this sham fight to show how hard-pressed fans are the real losers when it comes to the world of big money sport

By Lindy McDowell

The MMA fighter Conor McGregor is said to have earned $100m for his clash with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jnr. The last time there was a "purse" that spectacular was when Arlene Foster got a billion after a successful election fight.

True, McGregor had to fight to earn his eye-watering pay packet. But for $100m who wouldn't be prepared to do 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather Jnr?

The boxer himself pocketed somewhere in the region of $300m.

But the real winners in this odd fusion fight were the money men who profited not just from the Las Vegas live indoor gate but from global television sales.

So expensive were the seats at the arena that fans of McGregor who'd travelled all the way from Ireland to see their hero perform had to watch the event from outside on closed circuit TV.

An enterprising few managed to sneak inside - including one young man who pretended to be a relative of McGregor's to get past the first ticket barrier, then picked up a ladder and wandered in with it past the second check.

Message there to fight fans - next time you're in Las Vegas bring your own stepladder.

Doubtless a good time was had by all.

But beyond the hype (and no clash in recent years has been subject to so much puff and promotion as this one) this was a poor show for sport in general. A further example of how the game is all about money - gargantuan, shameful bucketloads of money.

Sports like boxing and football, once primarily sports of the working class, are now being priced beyond the reach of the ordinary punter.

In order to pay for the upkeep of its superstars and to feed the greed of the money men who reap the rich harvest of television sales, tickets which used to be affordable are now crazily expensive.

Ninety quid to watch a Premier League football game. Who can afford that on a regular basis?

Especially when you factor in travel, hotels, and the outrageous price of replica kit - those horrible polyester football shirts plastered with sponsorship ads.

Yet the more the owners and promoters and accountants feel they can fleece the fans, the more they'll try it.

And meanwhile, right at the top of the earning league are the 'stars', raking in vast sums that in any other profession would rightly be regarded as obscene.

I don't doubt that Conor McGregor is good at what he does. He is a showman as much as a sportsman. He fights with his gob as much as with his fists and his feet. But is any loser really worth $100m? Is any winner really worth $300m?

These colossal sums are in themselves part of the hype, the circus, the drama of the event.

The problem is that for the lucre to retain its allure it has to keep mounting. And it's the fans who will have to pay. And the sport itself.

There were many in boxing circles who vehemently opposed the mix of an MMA fighter and a boxer in the ring on the grounds that boxing would be the real loser.

The boxer won. But so did the money men who will doubtless have seen the potential for more crossover clashes. The only sport they're really dedicated to is watching those little noughts build up in the bank.

Realistically, yes, there's always going to be profit made in any game. And fair enough that sports stars should be well paid for their talents. But the dizzying sums that now dominate so many disciplines are detracting from what sport should really be about - and still is at many levels.

About healthy competition, real drama, live action.

When the game is greed, though, the fans are priced out of the stands and the ringside seats and relegated to the sofa to watch on television.

Big money sport is selling its own soul.

I swear by latest medical advice on pain

Bizarre medical update of the week... according to research one of the most effective means of pain relief is effing and blinding.

Apparently using swear words lessens pain which will may come as a surprise to anybody who's ever let rip after hitting their finger with a hammer - and found it didn't make a whole lot of difference pain-wise.

Still. At least it might explain Gordon Ramsay. The kitchen can be a dangerous place. All those cuts and burns.

No wonder it's his favourite word.

How all this super talk leaves me sick

I don't know about you but I'm getting super browned off with super.

Another totally unnecessary Americanism infecting everyday speech, 'super' is now being used as a replacement for entirely adequate terms like very, extremely and quite.

As in "I'm super excited", "he's super cute" and "this is super good".

It's not.

It's super irritating.

And without wishing to sound supercilious, I'm super sick of listening to people super up their phraseology this way.

Belfast Telegraph


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