Image by Pexels from Pixabay

While watching the steeplechase race at the Olympics today, my brother-in-law commented that steeplechase was a funny name for a foot race: “Steeples can’t run… so why would anyone even bother to chase one?”

The word-nerdy part of my brain started to itch… and there’s only one thing to do when that happens. I looked it up.

I knew the foot race was named after a hunt or horse race of some kind that I had read about in Dickens or Austen or Trollope, but what was the origin of the word?

In late 1700s, steeplechase was the name given to a cross-country horse race in which the church steeple, visible across the landscape, was the finishing point. This race was originally known as a steeplehunt.

Steeplechase is a compound word, made from steeple, a tall, usually pointed part of the roof of a church, and  chase, as in a pursuit,  or a fast ride or run.

While the foot race for people is not a cross-country run, it does involve both long distance and obstacles: it’s a 3000 meter run with hurdles and a water pit.

Macquarie Dictionary

#OlympicGames #words #steeple

An Armchair Spectator’s Perspective.

I love watching the Olympics on TV. The achievements of the competitors are amazing, and I can only imagine what it must feel like to be part of the atmosphere there with the cheering, whistling, and excitement of each event.

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the TV and radio commentators, though. I don’t know what it’s like in other nations, but the Australian media seem to be frequently making remarks about our competitors not winning medals when they were “expected to”, with the implication that they’re letting us down somehow.

Let’s stop and think about that for a moment.
Whose expectations and assumptions are we working on?
Most certainly, not mine.

I don’t think the competitors have those expectations, either. I have no doubt they have hopes and aspirations as they pursue their dreams of victory and success. They put everything into it that they can. Nobody goes in half-arsed and decides while competing that it doesn’t matter so much.

It’s important to remember that every single one of them is a champion for just getting there. They’ve beaten a bunch of other competitors who wanted to be there too. They’ve achieved personal bests and performed feats that are pretty much impossible for most of us ordinary folk.

Our commentators aren’t doing anyone any favours by adding more pressure with the weight of comments that imply that someone was expected to win, and didn’t. Going into the Olympics, there were reports of Australia hoping for a certain number of medals, particularly in certain events. It wasn’t the athletes or swimmers who expressed those goals, it was the media. And how the people “back home” interpret the results is strongly influenced by the ways in which the events and results are reported on and discussed in the media.

It’s easy to want to win everything. It’s easy to consider our own nation a “favourite” among others. We need to keep an open mind, though, and remember that everyone in other countries has the same hopes as we do for our competitors. Just because someone holds a world record doesn’t give them any entitlement to win that event again.  As Australian swimmer Bronte Barratt said on Thursday before the Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay, “As we’ve proven many times before, if you’ve got a lane, you’ve got a chance, so we’ve got a great chance.”  She’s absolutely right. Everyone has an equal chance once they make the final.

As for the competitors, they want to do their best. Of course they’d love to win, and they’ll be disappointed when they don’t. But to be there is a victory in itself, and we shouldn’t let any commentator diminish that. And when the race is over, we should be praising and encouraging, not criticising.


The Football Blues.

Last night, I watched the match between Geelong and Carlton. It was abysmal, but with a sense of grim determination, I watched to the end.

I’ve been a Carlton FC member for over 20 year, and I love my club. Naturally, I want to see them win, but right now I’d be happy to at least see them being competitive.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that.

However, I feel like I’m the only one not baying for the coach’s blood in a silver chalice by the next full moon. I’m so tired of people calling for Mick Malthouse to be sacked as coach of Carlton.

It’s true that the team couldn’t beat the Lower Gidgeebugga reserves at the moment. But I don’t think it’s fair to put the blame on Mick Malthouse. Before him, they blamed Brett Ratten. Before him, they blamed Denis Pagan.

Let’s be honest. Since the glory days of the mid 1990s, Carlton have struggled to string a few consecutive wins together. You can’t blame the current coach for something that has been a problem for two decades.

The way the media and most football pundits are behaving reminds me of those years when Richmond couldn’t put four good quarters of football together in the one game, and subsequently changed their coach more often than some people change their underwear. Melbourne have been guilty of the same thing.

I think it’s time the players took some of the responsibility.

Yeah, I know.
Shock and horror.
A Carlton member blaming the team for the most incredible demonstration of under-performance in living memory. Unheard of.

Seriously, it’s about time the boys went back to basics.
Kick it straight.
Kick it long.
Quit stuffing around with the ball and turning it over.
Watch every Blues match from 1995 and learn to play like that.
Stop playing as individuals and learn to work together as a cohesive, cooperative unit.

The team as a whole need to stop looking at themselves as underdogs and developed a positive, determined attitude every day of the week instead of trying to muster one on game days when they don’t think the opposition is too hard to beat.

This is stuff that I’m just not seeing. I watch every game, even though it hurts, and I listen to the commentaries of ex-players and experts who know far more about football than I do, and I know I am not the only person saying these things.

I really hope they don’t just blame Malthouse, let him go, and find another coach who will turn into their next scapegoat. It beggars belief that this is all his fault.

Unless he really is a Collingwood plant, a suggestion that I discussed a couple of weeks ago.  Then it might be his fault.  Sadly, though, I think I’m at the point where I actually do believe that my team really  is so bad that such conspiracy is completely unnecessary.

I know it’s a big call when the season isn’t even half-way over, but it would be a miracle if Carlton make it off the bottom of the competition ladder this season. Wooden spoon, anyone?


Crazy theory… or is it?

Tonight as I was driving home from work, Raf Epstein on ABC 774 was asking the audience what “crazy theories” they’d fallen for or actually believed.

Callers confessed to believing in ghosts and poltergeists and premonitions.

One female caller suggested that Mick Malthouse was a Collingwood plant at the Carlton Football Club, because it was the only way to make sense of the poor job he’s doing as coach.

“IKNOWRIGHT!” I said excitedly to nobody in particular. “That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for months!”

In fact, when Collingwood clobbered Carlton on Friday night, in Malthouse’s record-breaking 715th game as coach, my uncharacteristically few tweets were thus:
ScreenHunter_74 May. 05 20.43

ScreenHunter_75 May. 05 20.46

ScreenHunter_73 May. 05 20.41

Personally, I’m not convinced that it’s such a crazy theory.
Besides, for a die-hard Carlton tragic, it beats believing that my team is so bad that they don’t need anyone to conspire against them in order to lose every week.