What cricket fans have to say about F1 as the BBC turns its back on them

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

British sports fans can watch F1 - but not cricket - on the BBC in 2009
British sports fans can watch F1 - but not cricket - on the BBC in 2009

Most British F1 fans I know are delighted the sport will return to the BBC next year. But many cricket fans have reacted with anger to the news last week that their sport of choice will no longer be on the same channel – and lashed out at the corporation taking the F1 rights instead.

Here’s a sample of the complaints from last week’s Times letters page:

The BBC recently paid millions for Formula One, but will not pay anything, it seems, for any form of cricket. Why should I pay my licence fee? Formula One is poor by any standard of sport. In fact, is it sport? Ian Dilworth, Suffolk

It’s always interesting to hear non-F1 fans’ views of the sports – especially when they’re so strongly put! Here’s more:

Does the BBC not realise that for the youngsters of today following the cricket is much more to its advantage than the “glamour” of Formula One? F.D. Sturdy, Darlington

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke had this to say:

How many people play Formula One? There are 19 million cricket fans, 2.5 million men and boys and 900,000 women and girls who play the game. Surely they have a right to expect public service broadcasters to mount bids for the nation’s summer sport?

That line of argument seemed to go down well with the commenters on this cricket blog.

I’m no fan of cricket – but my parents both are and I have a certain respect for it.

I think a lot of the remarks along the lines of ‘F1’s not really a sport’ stem from ignorance. F1 fans understand very well the enormous physical demands piloting an F1 car makes of a top-line driver. But to someone who doesn’t know the sport it looks no harder than driving a car.

F1 drivers have to be super-fit. Jenson Button compte in triathlons, Mark Webber runs a 350km trek/bike/boat race across Tasmani every year, Jarno Trulli contests marathons and so on.

The “how many people play Formula 1?” argument is another statement born of ignorance. How many F1 drivers went straight into the sport without participating in motor racing at some other level? None. Most, if not all, will have started their careers in karting – which large numbers of British youngsters (to say nothing of children in other countries) will have had experience of.

I imagine the debate about what the licence fee should go on holds little interest for readers outside Britain so I’ll confine myself to one point on this – if coverage of any sport is going to be publicly funded, it should be one that would be most compromised by having adverts during the coverage, and I would place F1 above sports that have natural breaks such as football and rugby in that respect.

Finally, I loved the idea implied in the second quote that F1 is “glamorous” and nothing else. There’s someone who’s never stood at Copse, slowly getting soaked to the skin…

As ever I’d like to hear what you make of these criticisms – particularly if you’re a cricket fan!

How should the BBC cover F1 in 2009? Here’s a few thoughts.

Thanks to Alex for the tip