Here comes Autumn!
So September has arrived, the kids are back at school, (the roads are busy in the mornings again!) and the football season is under way with a vengeance. It's hard to say goodbye to the summer but this year a bit easier because we had a real summer. In my optimistic mind and selective memory, it didn't rain for three months, the sun shone everyday and I was out doors playing copious amounts of golf on some of the finest golf courses that Britain has to offer. I have to say a HUGE thanks to The Grove, Celtic Manor, The Shire, Brocket Hall for the use of such fantastic resources (including the 100 holes in one day event at Stoke Park!) and my game improved no end for a while at least.
But as well as playing, I was watching summer sports and, for me, life doesn't get any better.
I enjoyed the European Diamond League athletics events this summer, providing the first real opportunity the see the great sporting icons of our very own Mo Farah and Jamaica's Usain Bolt run since the Olympics last year. The anticipation of seeing them compete creates a worldwide buzz and media frenzy that is great for sport and allows the public to believe in sporting heroes and inspires the next generation.
The Doping Scandals
The only shadow over the summer sunshine was the doping scandals of Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, which brings the sport into disrepute and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those hard working sports men and women. To train so hard for years to reach the peak of your career only to find that when you get there the person in the lane next to you is taking drugs is a very bitter pill to swallow.
Drugs in sport is a recurring issue in the modern sports era and is clearly driven by the lucrative contracts offered to those athletes who win the top prizes, so it is easy to understand the temptation. But to give in to the temptation and cross that line is a step too far and undermines the ethos of sport and destroys the values that underpin it.
I am unequivocal in my condemnation of drugs in sport and anyone caught taking performance-enhancing drugs should be banned and never be allowed to compete at a professional level again.
This has to be a worldwide ban. It is no good some countries having different rules on doping with different penalty tariffs as this creates an uneven playing field. So the world sport governing bodies need to take strong action and unite on this so that professional athletes are under no illusion of the consequences of cheating.
I know the pressures to win are enormous but no amount of pressure can ever justify cheating and lets be clear, that's what it is. But will sport ever be clean?
I was very disappointed with Gay and Powell, as I had always enjoyed watching them compete. To know they were juiced up lets the sport down and casts a shadow over every sporting achievement and the spirit of human endeavour.
Here comes football
But, looking forward, the football season has started! Like many people, I think that the transfer rules are slightly bonkers. Players (and fans) not knowing which club they will be playing for, long after the season has already started, to me seems completely mad and must really unsettle the dressing rooms.
But the deals have been done... Bale has gone to Spain for eye-watering amounts of money, Ozil comes to Arsenal as Wenger finally gets his wallet out and the Premier League 2013 gets underway.
Last week we saw a pretty lacklustre performance by England which has got all the arm chair pundits (including me!) chewing the cud and yelling from the terraces and shouting at the telly (BBC, Sky and now BT!) Just proves to me that Autumn has arrived.
See you next week....
Follow Mark Foster on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkFosterSwim