Applying Pressure

I read in the Sunday Times yesterday that Judi Dench is likely to miss out on an Oscar because she’s just had a knee op and can’t travel to the States to ‘lobby’ the Academy to give her the award.

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Ah – so getting an Oscar apparently has bugger all to do with being very good or the best (which to be frank is arguably subjective anyway) – but is all to do with how much wining, dining, grovelling, and general bribing (or sucking up) you do to the judges. I suspect it might also help if you have some juicy dirt on a few of them.

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However, it sort of devalues the whole thing a bit doesn’t it?

In rugby and other professional sports there is a fair bit of this ‘lobbying’ and pressure applied to referees – often before the game in the press where a coach will accuse their opponents of cheating outrageously and conning refs – he will then state, supposedly quite ingenuously, that he is confident that the ref this time will penalise them most savagely come Saturday.

They also pretend to ask for guidance from the ref before a game regarding interpretation of laws – when what they are really doing is trying to influence how he manages the game (in their favour obviously).

During a match the players will try to be helpful in pointing out opponent errors whilst perfecting a mystified shake of the head when a decision goes against them. Props are especially good at this when scrums collapse (which is often) and when yellow (or red) carded after shoeing someone in the head. The head shaking and ‘I’m innocent’ look continues even after the stamp and ensuing flow of blood from his opposite number’s melon is shown in glorious 3D on the big screen.

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The introduction of stupid technicoloured boots has taken the mystery out of who did the actual shoeing!

But the ‘Oscar’ for most games has to go to the scrum half – theatrical throwing of the arms in the air at the breakdown, pointing at any opponent who is within 20 yards of him and constantly ‘advising’ the man with the whistle as to how to do his job better. Add in the obligatory tantrum when he can’t take a ‘quick’ tap and the need to shove the opposition to get the ball when given a penalty puts him head and shoulders above the rest (not literally – he’s usually the smallest and stroppiest bloke on the field).

Largely most of all this is pretty much a waste of time – I’m not saying that refs can’t be influenced – they’re human after all (well most of them – although there were a few in the Kent Society that defied the description). In most cases they call it as they see it – the advent of TMOs has also made undue influence a limited factor too.

It can also work against you – on Saturday one of the players at Sandy Park had a word in the ref’s ear and was promptly marched back 10 metres – this silenced him immediately (although not his team mates who seemed a bit miffed at him! If they adopted this in football the ‘chatterboxes’ would soon find themselves in row Z behind the goal.

At Askeans we had a few blokes who were adept at ‘helping the ref’ – I can still hear Chas shouting ”play the ball” whenever we transgressed, whilst Les would often ask the ref nicely “could you please explain that one sir?” –the ref was never quite sure if Les was taking the piss. Bush was almost always taking the piss – but Chunky, of course, was predominantly far less polite when he objected to a decision that went against us – which, for some reason, was very often when Chunky was skipper.

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Perhaps Dame Judi should engage Chas and Les (but probably not Chunky) to pop over to LA to lobby on her behalf. Actually maybe Chunky should go – can’t see the blokes in charge of the gold envelopes giving him too much lip.

Whatever – I suppose that we’re stuck with lobbying – but it’s a good job it’s not prevalent in all sports – I mean otherwise we might end up with a World Cup in somewhere like Qatar.

I believe the sheiks are even now preparing a bid for the Winter Olympics

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