Tim Wigmore

The science of tennis grunts

The cancellation of Wimbledon this summer deprived fans of their annual exercise in moralising. There is one topic SW19-goers love to complain about every year: the grunting sounds that players emit as they hit the tennis ball. Maria Sharapova, who retired in February, was called the Queen of Screams. Her grunts were once recorded at

Football focus | 27 September 2018

‘Football holds a mirror to ourselves,’ Michael Calvin asserts in State of Play. Modern football is angrier, more brutal, more unequal and simply more relentless than ever before. The sense of a football club being rooted to its locality has been shattered. Globalisation, and hyper-commercialisation, means that local owners have been replaced by ‘speculators and

The Fifa paradox

In 1930, Jules Rimet, the creator of the Football World Cup, crossed the Atlantic in a steamship to attend the inaugural competition in Uruguay. In his bag he carried a small trophy, the World Cup; in his heart he carried the belief that the World Cup could unite nations and smooth nationalism. ‘Men will be

The people’s cricket

Blame it on a marketing survey. In 2001, the England and Wales Cricket Board commissioned the biggest piece of market research in the game’s history. They were told cricket was ‘socially inaccessible’, and that there existed a vast swath of ‘cricket tolerators’ — those who didn’t hate the game yet didn’t attend matches. So the

Tough luck, old boys

For a centre-right political party, the Conservatives are oddly obsessed with where people went to school. Michael Gove and Lady Warsi both lamented the number of Old Etonians in influential positions earlier this year. It may not have been coincidence that, within five months, both had moved posts: there remains a potent undercurrent of class

Why school trips are needed now more than ever

The school trip now seems rather quaint. When you can see the whole world on Google Maps, what’s the point of traipsing to the seaside to see longshore drift in action? In an age of austerity, moreover, the school trip might seem an unaffordable indulgence. Yet parents seem to think otherwise: according to a recent

Barack Obama’s best voice: Michael Grunwald

No Obama policy – not even ‘Obamacare’ – has been derided quite as much as his stimulus package and the $787 billion Recovery Act passed in February 2009. It became a byword for failed big-government liberalism, and the Republicans’ staunch opposition to it underpinned their 63-seat gain in the House of Representatives in 2010. Yet,

The Lib Dems’ future may not be so bleak

At last week’s Corby by-election, the Liberal Democrat candidate requested two recounts. Once a formidable by-election machine, the Lib Dems were reduced to searching in vain for the 14 extra votes they required to get 5% of the vote, and so get their £500 deposit refunded. In 1935, a famous book described The Strange Death

Obama campaigns for Clinton’s third term

This debate was never going to be easy for Mitt Romney. After his evisceration of Barack Obama in the first presidential debate, encapsulated by the New Yorker cover of Romney talking to an empty chair, it was certain that Obama would be rigorously schooled before the second debate. Obama’s performance 13 days ago was so

Vice-President Biden closes the enthusiasm gap

The conventional wisdom dictates that debates between VP candidates are nights that should only interest political anoraks. But the last eight days have not been good for conventional wisdom: remember how boring Mitt Romney was meant to have no chance against a man of Barack Obama’s élan? Far more than any recent presidential debate, last

The quiet country lane hosting a schooling revolution

The location hardly suggests revolution. A few miles down a Somerset country lane, a new school opened this week. It will do so on the site of a tiny old primary school, buttressed by a couple of swiftly-erected buildings, before moving to its permanent site, currently occupied by the NHS, within two years. But the

How the forecasters could fail for the 2012 presidential election

The really curious thing about this year’s US presidential election is that it looks set to defy all political forecasts. While the most respected political science models have predicted victory for Mitt Romney, polls have consistently suggested otherwise. Political science and predictive models seldom receive much attention in the UK but they enjoy a strong

McCain sounds his age, not like an elder statesman

John McCain cut rather a sad sight last night as he addressed the Republican National Convention on his 76th birthday. Four years ago, he would have envisaged spending the convention stepping up his campaign for a second presidential term. Now, he was reduced to a speech that attracted only polite interest from delegates, who were

How Artur Davis can really help Mitt Romney

‘The last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place.’ Artur Davis spoke last night at what he now believes is the right venue for him: the Republican National Convention. It did not take him long to reconcile himself to Republicans angry that they were welcoming a man