Peter Rhodes on incontinent watchdogs, a very short Grace and the hidden cost of sport

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

But what’s the cost?
But what’s the cost?

New research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that any amount of running is good for your health. Seriously? Any amount? Don’t believe it.

A few days ago I was overtaken in the park by a couple of Lycra goddesses on their morning run. Suddenly, they ran into a patch of fallen, slippery leaves. They did a fair impression of Bambi on ice. Thankfully, neither fell or was hurt, but it was a close thing.

The following day, on my slow and safe morning walk, I trod on something that punctured my boot sole and pricked the skin. It was a needle-sharp thorn from a blackthorn tree. If I’d been running instead of walking, my full weight would have landed on that thorn and I’d have been off to A&E.

Get the point? Any amount of running or for that matter jogging, jumping, football, boxing or any other sport, can land you in hospital. And while there is a massive international lobby promoting sport, we only ever hear about the alleged benefits, never the true costs. If you doubt that, just try finding out how much the NHS spends each year on dealing with sports injuries. It is almost a state secret. You can easily discover how much our health service spends treating the results of inactivity (£10 billion) pr diabetes (£6 billion) because these conditions have well-funded charities and lots of research. But nobody seems interested in totting up the bill for all those fractures, sprains, concussions and busted kneecaps caused by sports.

Sport is one of the great religions of our age and the NHS is a sacred cow. It would be good to know how one affects the other. More research, please.

“Boosting inclusivity” is the justification offered by the boss of an Oxford college for ending the ancient practice of saying Grace before meals. As a hard-boiled old atheist, I wouldn’t feel one iota more or less included or, for that matter, excluded. But I do feel a little irritated at yet another example of large academic brains containing small minds. Grace must be the most harmless of all religious practices, a simple act of thanks for our food. Who could possibly object?

My favourite Grace was delivered at a regimental dinner some years ago. The sergeant-major stood up, bellowed “Thank God!” and sat down again. He did not waste words.

An internal report by the Financial Conduct Authority reveals filthy behaviour by some FCA staff including leaving bottles in sanitary bins and urinating and defecating on the floors. So what’s the difference between a financial watchdog and a real watchdog? A real watchdog is house-trained.

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