The limits of the human body or saturation exhaustion do not mix well with money majesty. In dollars, pesos or euros it is clear that sport has become one of the most lucrative industries, a masterful form of leisure that combines entertainment, business and passion. In the last throes of the pandemic, sport projects a global expansion of the product into the future. More games, more competitions, more income, more television and, consequently, more wear and tear for the athletes and more possibility of exhaustion for the fans. The jump in quantity is imminent. Formula 1 grows to 23 races in 2022 on 52 possible weekends, never seen before. The MotoGP World Championship stretches to 21 Sundays of races, more than ever. In cycling, the list of events in the first division (the World Tour) has been extended to 33. His eminence, football, has been exploring the alternative of holding a World Cup every two years from FIFA. In tennis, a first sword is planted with 90 matches a year and endless flights to cross continents from one week to the next. The gap seeps into other giant sports, such as basketball. A team like Real Madrid, which aspires to the La Liga, the Euroleague, the Copa del Rey and the Super Cup can play more than 95 games per season. And all this, not counting the Olympic Games or exceptional events.
Growth by modality invokes direct competition between the sports themselves, who look to television rights and the range of possible sponsors for an argument for their expansion. Each sport expresses its participation in the markets and this implies a weekend schedule saturated with disciplines and options in front of the television for fans.
There is no press conference without an allusion to the calendar full of dates, to the overload of efforts, to injured players. Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid coach, spoke yesterday, a restrained, politically correct guy who does not usually cross rebellious borders. «The calendar is excessive, we have a problem. UEFA and FIFA have to fix this. Because if the players get tired, there is no game. If the coach gets tired, nothing happens, he gets someone else, but if the player gets tired … ».
FIFA has established a window system to yield to footballers to your selections about 50 days a year. His plan for a World Cup every two seasons is to reduce the excursions of the internationals with their countries to a couple of sections per course to concentrate the qualifying phases. A World Cup every time an even year arrives would force to compress the calendar, already so crowded with football matches.
The Pedri case
“They don’t care about the players, they only care about their pockets. It is very bad for footballers. And now there is talk of a European Championship and a World Cup every two years. When will we rest? Never “, emphasized the Belgian Courtois regarding the recently created League of Nations, a new tournament that according to the goalkeeper only contributes one goal. It’s just a money game and we have to be honest about it. We have played it simply because it is extra money for UEFA.
The next World Cup will be held in Qatar in November 2022, altering for the money of oil and gas all the football competitions on the planet to avoid the summer heat of the desert in the Persian Gulf. The example of soccer overdose is Pedri, 18 years old, who played all the games with Barça in the last league, was summoned by Luis Enrique for the Eurocup in June and July and dared to do the Olympic Games in the middle of the summer off to his companions. Koeman gave him a vacation at the end of the last League, but the return of the canary is delayed. He will be a few more weeks without playing.
Formula 1 has long been wearing its exclusive venue image and VIP wristbands for guests only. The American owners, Liberty Media, have planned a 23-race program for 2022. With the summer weeks of rigor and the period around Christmas as a source of rest, you can almost guess that there will be F1 even in the soup the rest of the year . “In F1 we ran a five-star Michelin restaurant, not a hamburger joint”, summed up Bernie Ecclestone, the former supreme being, who made F1 attractive for its luxury and unapproachable aura.
Pawned Liberty in a thicker line, it will force the protagonists of the caravan to go to the airports like bandits to the mountains. His Excellency the dollar rules. There are already more races outside of Europe than on the old continent, which translates into more flight hours, more difficulty moving material and more time in the paddock bubble.
Some pilots have already raised their voices. Sebastian Vettel, four times world champion with Red Bull, believes that “the goal should be a sustainable championship, taking into account human resources. There are a lot of people involved who should have a normal life outside of work. Mechanics, engineers, personnel … they have families and children to take care of ». McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo believes that “free time to unwind” would be necessary. Franz Tost, veteran director of Alpha Tauri, denies these postulates. “If someone doesn’t like 23 races, they should get out of F1.”
Tennis has not expanded its share of the screen with more tournaments, but there is a reason: it no longer has any more free weeks in its fast pace that encompasses cement, the cycle of dirt in Europe, less and less concession to grass and again the concrete to close the season. A famous phrase by Rafael Nadal sums up the racket calendar. “I don’t remember ever playing without pain”, said. A figure like him can reach 90 games a year, the best players forced to compete by ranking in the nine Masters 1,000 and in the four Grand Slam events (Australia, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the United States). In the men’s sector (ATP) there are 65 tournaments every year. And more than sixty in the women’s (WTA). Once the annual objectives have been met or the Masters has been passed (this fall it will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico), the end of the year is conducive to unsubscribing according to which tournaments (Badosa and Muguruza have renounced the Billie Jean King). Of course, the Davis Cup, originally scheduled for seven days by its promoter Gerard Piqué, will cover more space (10 days) at the end of each session this year.
Cycling has expanded horizons and enrichment possibilities with the World Tour. Ten years ago there were 28 compulsory competition tests for the first division teams. In 2022 there will be 33. The current planning of cyclists, which is based on data and potentiometers rather than sensations, has not changed much compared to recent seasons. The race organizers have not expanded the coverage of the grand tours, the classics are what they have always been and only transoceanic trips somehow shake up a sport that has not undergone too many modifications in its competitive structure.
The longest World Cup
It is not what happens in the Motorcycle World Championship, which two weeks ago announced the longest roadmap in its history, 21 races, two more than this season and three more than ten years ago. In the last decade, the electricity of MotoGP was condensed into 18 tests from 2012 to 2017. Dorna, the owner company, explores new routes in Finland (KymiRing) and Indonesia (Mandalika) and in tough competition with F1, as it will be inevitable the coincidence of Sundays with the cars. The motorcycles will visit eighteen countries, an endless traffic through the airports of half the world, the inevitable logistical complication, and Spain always in command with four great prizes (Jerez, Montmeló, Aragón and Cheste).
“We have already been fourteen games and October has not ended,” Real Madrid basketball coach Pablo Laso commented without crying yesterday. “The calendar is demanding, but it would be absurd to complain because it is the same for everyone.” European basketball is that fascinating sport in which you never know when to play or to which competition the game broadcast on television belongs, such is the crossing of dates and times. The match overload for ambitious clubs, national team spans aside, can span more than 90 matches a year. No wonder Rudy Fernández’s phrase he gave to ABC. “I’m a little tired of basketball.”