Monday, 24 August 2009

Well done England but please no awards

Although I hardly follow sport it would be churlish not to congratulate the England cricket team on winning The Ashes. Yes, well done to them! However I very much hope that this time round nobody connected with the victory shows up in The New Years Honours List. You might think I'm being small minded on this issue but let me explain:

Let's put aside for a moment my general reservations about the Honours System. For better or worse we have it and I'm sure that many of the recipients in the past have been worthy of some sort of recognition for their contributions to our lives. But it always seemed to me that quite rightly these individuals had to prove themselves over a long period of time. Obviously one has to exclude such awards as 'The George Cross' given say for a single act of great bravery. Run the clock back to 2005 and it will be remembered that England beat Australia by the narrowest of margins to gain 'The Ashes'. It was a very close run thing but nevertheless the English coach, manager, chairman of selectors and the then captain Michael Vaughan each received OBEs and the rest of the team MBEs even though some of the players contributions were very minor.

So what happened when England next toured Australia? They were absolutely thrashed 5-0 by the Aussies! It might seem ungracious to remind readers of the last mentioned fact at this time of England's triumph. The point I am making though is that the whole concept of honours is totally devalued by dishing out gongs on the basis of one test series being won. Just checking on the internet and I see that the successful England rugby team of 2003 received honours en masse. A similar situation.

Let me put it this way: a lollipop lady might receive an MBE after decades of seeing her young charges safely across the road. Would that gong be handed out after just one term - I think not! Similarly with sport, players need to prove their worth over a long period of time. I think this is the way it used to be and certainly seems to be how other human activities are viewed. The examples of rugby and cricket teams I've quoted seem to have 'Tony Blair' written all over them. Sadly it is the sort of populist thing he would recommend and to my mind an absolute insult to those people who have devoted a lifetime to a cause or a profession.

I hope then that those members of this Ashes winning side are not showered with awards as a result of what has happened this summer. Following the logic of 2005 they should be I suppose. But if this happens it will bring the whole honours system into more disrepute if that is possible!

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