Eric Thompson: Paper pushers hurting real racers

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MotoGP champ Casey Stoner was critical of tampering by the sport's ruling body.  Photo / AP
MotoGP champ Casey Stoner was critical of tampering by the sport's ruling body. Photo / AP

I read with interest in the New Zealand Herald about world MotoGP champion, Australian Casey Stoner, having a pop at his sport's ruling body.

It touched quite a chord with me - not so much that it involved motorsport, but more the insidious creep of sport's bodies and those self-appointed bastions of competition, the sports administrators.

Stoner had a great point when he told AAP: "Tampering by the ruling body Dorna has forced manufacturers to develop costly new machines and priced some brands out of the sport."

Having raced motorcycles internationally for a number of years, not to any great success I have to add, I follow the sport avidly.

The Grand Prix Road-Racing World Championship was established in 1949 and is the world's oldest motorsport championship. The 500cc class was the blue riband of the categories and remained unchanged until 2002, when, in my opinion, the administrators decided to start tinkering with things.

Oh, and no doubt bending to the whims of the tree-huggers regarding two-stroke engines.

Anyway, since then the paper pushers have just about stuffed the sport. In the past decade the engines have gone from 500cc to 990cc four-strokes, back to 800cc in 2007 and now up to 1000cc this year.

If bureaucrats ever left a meeting room and engaged with those who actually have to pay to go racing, they might realise the enormous costs involved in having to build a whole new engine, and then a frame to put it in.

Formula One is no different. The amount of money to get involved is too scary to contemplate. If motorsport, especially the four-wheel kind, keeps going the way it is, where 90 per cent of the drivers have to pay for a seat, all you're going to get is a bunch of very rich parents paying for a drive for their mediocre offspring to fizz around various racetracks in the world.

Skill will be something folk will talk about at dinner parties as being a lost art. Mind you, if you have a grid of average numpties banging wheels, it might make lightweight entertainment akin to a reality TV show.

Anyway, back to sports administrators. I can imagine having a conversation with one over a beer.

"So what do you do, mate?" I ask.

"I'm a sports administrator," says Hugo.

"So what exactly is that?" I reply.

"I administrate the sport, get things organised, arrange other things, talk to people and stuff," says Hugo.

"That's what I do as part of my everyday job as well as producing the work I'm paid to do. What do you really produce? Do you take the practice, clean the track - you know, actual stuff?" I say.

"Oh no, nothing like that, I administrate things," says Hugo.

"So, you actually get paid a shedload of money to move paper around and change things for change's sake," would be my riposte.

"You wouldn't understand," says Hugo as he marches off.

Too bloody right I don't understand. Call me old-fashioned but sports administrators are like pilot fish on a shark - useless, and picking up scraps of glory from those who are actually doing the work and providing the entertainment. How on earth they ever got out of the office and started making strategic decisions I'll never know. Maybe I was too busy doing the sport rather than thinking about how to tinker with it.

- NZ Herald

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