Tag Archives: Sport

Remembering Harry Carpenter (1925-2010)

I was sad to hear of the death today of the BBC’s ‘voice of boxing’ Harry Carpenter. A true master of his craft, Carpenter was perhaps best known for commentating on Frank Bruno’s fights and interviewing the boxer afterwards when Bruno would inevitably utter his memorable catchphrase “Know what I mean Arry”

Harry Carpenter was the BBC's voice of boxing for half a century.

He also interviewed Muhammad Ali, describing him as “not only the most remarkable sports personality I have ever met, he is the most remarkable man I have ever met”. Carpenter was one of the BBC’s top sports commentators, a true wordsmith alongside such masters of the microphone as David Coleman, Alan Weeks, Ron Pickering, Ted Lowe and Jim Laker.

Many of the tributes to him describe Carpenter as being humble and totally unflash. It’s something I can vouch for, having met the great man in 1990 on a standard class train carriage en route from Newcastle to London. It was the day of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation and on hearing the news from a passenger who had just got on the train, Carpenter looked up briefly from reading his paper and said simply: “Quite remarkable”.

He was himself a quite remarkable broadcaster. He’ll be greatly missed.

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My top ten sporting interview clichés

Sky News reporter Enda Brady has tweeted to say that he’d just heard Jonny Wilkinson use the phrase “going forward” in a radio interview. “Only in rugby!” Enda said.

Jonny, looking like a man ready to go forward.

This got me thinking about my top ten sporting interview clichés. Like Jonny Wilkinson’s above, some of the phrases below you might also have heard in a business or political context. Wherever you’ve heard them, they are all hackneyed clichés that should be avoided, dare I say it, like the plague . . .

1. At the end of the day.
2. As sure as night follows day.
3. We’ll be taking the positives out of the situation.
4. They’ll be disappointed with that.
5. We’ll just take each game as it comes.
6. It’s always been a dream of mine to play/work for [insert team/company].
7. To be fair . . .
8. We haven’t really talked about the competition.
9. He’s a legend.
10. Going forward, I’m confident about my future here.

I’d like to hear your sporting clichés too, so feel free to comment.

Tiger talks and the world listens

It’s not often that the worlds of golf and PR collide but that’s what certainly happened today with Tiger Woods’ very public apology for adultery and letting his family and friends down. Seasoned Tiger watchers will have been surprised at his candour – not something he’s been noted for in the past – and also at the emotion he showed in delivering his mea culpa address.

Tiger Woods steps up to the mic at his stage managed 'press conference' in Florida.

At a time of personal distress for all concerned chez Woods (interesting that his wife wasn’t in the specially selected audience when he spoke) it seems somewhat unseemly to ask how Woods’ statement will play in PR terms. Make no mistake however that every word and syllable will be dissected in the minutest detail by the world’s media and PR experts.

Straight after his statement, PR personality Max Clifford gave Woods’ performance the thumbs up, dubbing it sincere and well put and predicting that it would play well in the US – the golfer’s key audience. Woods’ invocation of his previously hidden Buddhism surprised many and will be viewed by some as a cynical attempt to give his redemption a theoretical and religious base. It will certainly be used by his advisers as further proof of his contrition and his renewed determination to atone and to become a better person.

PR watchers in the US and on this side of the pond will be looking at the reaction of the public and the media that will ultimately dictate whether ‘Brand Woods’ will be able to recover from recent events. The widely held view is that there is too much at stake for too many people to allow Woods not to re-establish himself as the world’s number one golfer and sports advertising cash machine. That may well be the case but it is not a certainty in my view.

As Tiger heads back for more therapy, I would not be surprised if it was a little while yet before he returns to the fairways. When, and if he does, I think he’ll find it difficult to get back to his former position at the top of the game. I wonder if his head will ever again be right enough to fully concentrate on a game where the smallest distraction can knock you off course. And even if he does return, he will face opponents who are no longer overawed by the image of an all powerful and invincible Tiger.