Gatland’s Dricectomy matters – the Lions winning doesn’t
Five minutes after it’s over, it’s gone. The aftertaste of your breakfast has a longer shelf-life
A Lions series is a twin of the Ryder Cup. Great sport, compelling drama, unmissable when the margins are as tight as they have been. But five minutes after it’s over, it’s gone. The aftertaste of your Saturday morning breakfast has a longer shelf-life. Because to rob a phrase from one of those nice Anglo lads, virtually nobody outside the participants have skin in the game.
That’s why the Sky Sports coverage has been so grating. While they’ve been at DefCon 1 since the Lions left for Hong Kong, the hype has probably not been significantly greater than would normally be the case during the soccer season. But when they stitch a Super Sunday label onto Stoke v Sunderland in the middle of November, there will at least be a few million people who care deeply about the result. As Alan Quinlan wrote here last week, that’s not even the case for the people in the stadium on a Lions tour.
So there’s a disconnect here. Sky’s coverage has assumed that a Lions win matters as much to the people watching on their couch as it does to Paul Wallace and Scott Quinnell, to Will Greenwood and Ian McGeechan. Unusually for them, they’ve misjudged their audience. For that’s what we are. An audience, not a fanbase. A pretty lucrative one too.
So the concept itself isn’t going anywhere soon. Any worries that it wouldn’t survive in the professional era have been routed. Indeed, it’s the very fact that it’s out of kilter with the rest of the calendar that will guarantee its survival. One man’s anachronism is another’s USP, after all. They’ll keep playing, we’ll keep watching.
But Gatland’s abrupt Dricectomy this week asked everybody some straight-forward questions. Do you actually give a toss about the Lions winning or losing? Do you only care about the part of the Lions you’re already emotionally attached to? Or, when brass comes to tacks, do you see it as a bit of harmless diversion to be enjoyed for 240 minutes of action every four years and instantly forgotten thereafter?
Door Number Three, please. Every time.