Back in the 1980s and 90s, I often spent winter Saturdays playing chess for the county. If England were playing a rugby international that afternoon I would video it and watch it when I got home. And as long as I could avoid hearing the score, it was much more enjoyable that way.
In part it was because if I wanted to put the kettle on or get a beer or go to the loo, the players would obliging wait for me. But it was also because I could listen to the punditry before the game and then fast forward through the national anthems to get to the kick off.
These days, certainly in football, you don't just get this sort of thing before internationals, you seem to get it before every televised game.
If there are not national anthems then there is the governing body's anthem, and there are handshakes and a proliferation of mascots. ("I want to be a professional footballer," I heard some wag call out in a pub once, "you get a little boy each.")
And then there are all those silences. I discussed their prevalence in one of the very first posts on this blog back in the late Middle Ages:
It is also interesting that so many football matches now begin with a minute's silence. This honour used to be reserved for long-retired heroes; now it is seems to take place more often than not. It is as though football fans have to constantly given opportunities to show that they are not so bad really. "The silence was impeccably observed."
It is in the same spirit as the governors of open Borstals used to send their lads out to work in the community.Let's save the pageantry for the really big occasions and get on with the game.