I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield. Even if they didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympics, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles... At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare.
        - George Orwell, "The Sporting Spirit" (14 December 1945)

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.
        - Damon Runyon

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
        - Haywood Hale Broun

What counts in sports is not the victory, but the magnificence of the struggle.
        - Joe Paterno

Players win games, teams win championships.
        - Bill Taylor

It's all about chemistry. Talent alone won't get it done.
        - Brett Favre, on the balance required for NFL success

Our success has not been a continual series of victories. We have had a number of devastating setbacks; how these are handled is the making of a great team... winning does not happen in straight lines.
        - Clive Woodward, after leading England to Rugby World Cup victory

Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.
        - Don Schula, Miami Dolphins Football Coach, 1994

"The harder I practice, the luckier I get."
        - Gary Player

"We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."
        - Vince Lombardi

"They may not win, but they lose beautifully."
        - Jake, racing boat designer in "Must Love Dogs"

"Aren't you interested in football?"
"Only from an anthropological point of view."
        - Danny, observing a rugby match in "Flirting"

"Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."
        - Henry Sanders (popularized by Vince Lombardi)

"Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don't feel like doing them."
        - Julius Erving

You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.
        - Roy Campanella

"It says, I think, that at root that we're children, or we'd like to be. And the best of us each keep as much of that childhood with us as we grow into adulthood, as we can muster... And even after we're past the point of being able to play the game with any skill, if we love it, then it's like Peter Pan - we remain boys forever, we don't die."
        - John Thorn, on Ken Burns's "Baseball"

"I have to offer only one amendment. In that place where the detective reports me as taking a lemonade at 3am, he's off. It was straight whiskey. I never drank a lemonade at that hour in my life. "
        - Legendary baseball player 'King' Kelly, spotted in a saloon at 3am by club detectives

"There was a time when the National League stood for integrity and fair dealing. Today it stands for dollars and cents. Once it looked to the elevation of the game and an honest exhibition of the sport. Today its eyes are on the turnstile. Players have been bought, sold, and exchanged as though they were sheep instead of American citizens."
        - John Montgomery Ward, creator of the baseball Player's League (1889)

The secret of winning football games is working more as a team, less as individuals.  I play not my 11 best, but my best 11.
        - Knute Rockne, American football coach

We’re not giving away any football players who could hurt us later. I don’t mind people thinking I’m stupid, but I don’t want to give them any proof.
        - Bum Phillips, Houston Oilers coach

The strong take from the weak and the smart take from the strong.
        - Pete Carril, former Princeton basketball coach

In Texas in the 1960s college basketball teams had been integrated, but there was an "informal rule" that you never played more than one black player at home, two on the road or three if you were behind. After Texas Western won the 1966 NCAA championship with an all-black team on the court, defeating an all-white Kentucky team coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp, the rules were rewritten.
        - Roger Ebert, from his review of "Glory Road"

According to Sports Illustrated, nearly half the high school sports injuries that lead to paralysis or death occur among cheerleaders.
        - Thomas Sowell

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

- Plato The genius of the British lends itself not so much to the winning of games as to their invention. An astonishing number of international games were invented by the British, who, whenever they are surpassed by other nations, coolly invent another one which they can dominate for a while by being the only ones to know the rules... children in British schools are taught to lose gracefully, often at the expense of winning. The real encounter is won in the changing room after the event, in which the extraordinary grace of the loser makes the victory seem hollow and even vaguely indecent to the winner.
        - Peter Ustinov, "Dear Me"

Nothing reveals so much about us as how we play the games we play.

- Q, Star Trek "Why should a player be denied the sheer pleasure and release of smashing his own expensive racket into pieces occasionally?"
        - Peter Ustinov on Wimbledon

Jimmy Connors has unleashed his new tactic, the Early Grunt. Now he has taken to grunting loudly at the instant of hitting the ball instead of just afterwards... Since the grunt travels at the speed of sound, it arrives in the opponent's court marginally before the ball does. Ordinary opponents try to hit the grunt. Borg was not fooled. Indeed he quickly developed a Swedish counter-grunt.
        - Clive James, in "The Crystal Bucket"

Gabriela Sabatini looks like a human racehorse, a (successful) experiment in genetico-aesthetics... Her beauty alone scares the life out of her opponents—because tennis is above all an expression of personal power and, in the women's game, is closely bound up with how a player looks, and how she feels she looks.
        - Martin Amis

Pierce, the ninth seed, never was one for trench warfare. Rather like Nato forces she prefers to do battle from a safe distance, demoralising her rivals with baseline Exocets. But she was routed by Dokic's carefully constructed guerilla campaign.
        - Paul Weaver, "The Guardian"

"It was like an alien abduction out there. Someone invaded his body and turned him into the greatest volleyer in the universe."
        - Jim Courier, stunned after losing to Tim Henman at Wimbledon

Let's talk about cricket. It is the world's most mysterious game, and the world's slowest. The commentators speak a language that appears to be English except that all the nouns mean something else. There is aimless running about in a way that makes baseball seem dangerously athletic... Leg before wicket! Well-bowled! Bowling is what they call pitching; the "pitch", on the other hand, is the actual field.
        - Jon Carroll, an American stranded in London, "San Francisco Chronicle"

England were at once worn out but underprepared; complacent yet overapprehensive; inward-looking yet dysfunctional as a unit; closeted yet distracted.
        - Matthew Engel, as England throw away the Ashes against Australia, "FT"

"They were so frightening, you even watched the TV highlights from behind the sofa."
        - England batsman Keith Fletcher, about the West Indies fast bowling attack in the 1980s

"The Empire Strikes Back."
        - Nike advert in the Telegraph after England beat Australia in the Rugby WC Final

"Like a sweet-natured version of the Nuremburg rally."
        - The Times describe the parade in honour of the all conquering English rugby team

When they ran on to the field it was like watching a tribe of white orcs on steroids.
        - Michael Laws, New Zealand sports columnist, describing the English rugby team

Paris hasn't witnessed anything this ugly since Charles Laughton starting ringing the bells on top of Notre Dame Cathedral.
        - Martin Johnson, after England KO France from WC07, "The Telegraph"

There'll be tears and beers in Temple Bar and Cork after this abject failure.
        - The New Zealand Herald, after Ireland's dismal 2007 World Cup

"It goes to show that Dermot MacMurrough was wrong to invite Strongbow in in 1171 or whatever it was."
        - George Hook, after Ireland beat rugby world champions England in Twickenham (2004)

"If someone starts talking about pride today I'm going to vomit... The Apache nation had pride and look where they are. The bushmen of Kalahari have pride and look where they are."
        - George Hook, ahead of Ireland v France (Feb'08)

"Extraordinary scenes there at the end. I think some of the crowd chanting 'Italy! Italy!' were actually Irish."
        - Tom McGurk, after Ireland stagger to a 16-11 win over Italy (2008)

"What will his reasons be for resiging?"
"Well, without trying to be facetious, I wouldn't have got up at 5am to be here if I knew that."
        - Radio Five Live's Shelagh Fogarty covering Clive Woodward's resignation

Lions tours used to represent the apogee in the kind of behaviour usually regarded as hooliganism if perpetrated by the lower orders but high jinks if it involves young gentlemen of quality. The most famous incident involved Ulster hard man and Lions captain Willie John McBride, who was being warned by a nervous hotelier in some benighted Afrikaans town that he would send for the police. McBride’s response came in the slowest of drawls: "Will there be many of them?"
        - Matthew Engel, "The Financial Times"

I know nothing about rugby, but Jonny Wilkinson is still my favourite quarterback... How did the referee determine when a foul had been committed given that all the players were beating the crap out of each other more or less continuously?
        - Toby Young, an Englishman proudly ignorant of rugby, "The Spectator"

American football is Rugby after a visit from a Health and Safety inspector.
        - Anonymous

Boxing is for men, and is about men and is men. A celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for being lost.
        - Joyce Carol Oates, "On Boxing"

"A daily festival of human suffering."
        - Lance Armstrong describes the Tour de France

"In the last 24 hours everyone has been offering an opinion on Chris Hoy. But what does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?"
"Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own arse."
        - Chris Hoy, British olympic champion, dealing with the press, seen in "The Guardian"

"A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."
        - Cool Runnings

"I throw the ball as hard as ever, but it just takes longer to get to the plate."
       - Don Newcombe, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, in the twilight of his career

"Not only is there more to life than basketball, there's a lot more to basketball than basketball."
        - Phil Jackson

"The trouble with society today is that parents expect other people to bring up their kids, set the examples... teachers, clergymen, now ball players. If some kid goes off the rails it's not necessarily because a big-name pitcher gets caught sticking coke up his nose... it's because he wasn't taught the difference between right and wrong back in his own house. It's just too easy to load up responsibility elsewhere."
        - Marvin Miller, former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association

A white kid tries to become President of the United States, and all the skills and knowledge he picks up on the way can be used in a thousand different jobs. A black kid tries to become Willie Mays, and all the tools he picks up on the way are useless to him if he doesn't become Willie Mays.
        - Melvin Rogers [seen on Kelly's Baseball Quotes page]

Sport is how poor kids from poor countries pass through the eye of the needle to riches and recognition.
        - AA Gill, "Whatever Happened to the Heroes?", "The Times"

Sport marks out those who strive: it rewards inequality of both talent and application.
        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"

To describe some of these substances as performance-enhancing is pushing at the boundaries of credibility. How much coffee do you have to drink to shave a hundredth of a second off your 100 metres time? The drugs they legitimately hunt down should not be those that enhance performance but those that endanger health. That should be the only criterion because, in one small way or another, legal supplements, new training tricks and a scientifically rigorous diet all enhance performance. What, really, is the difference.
        - Kevin Mitchell, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

Fighting racism is about targets. Not achieving them. Choosing them. Quotas of black people, as in the South African rugby team, miss the mark. Sport will only be free of racism when nobody notices ethnic composition. The ideal would be your record collection. Do you know the precise ratio of black to white music? Of course not. Positive discrimination is not required because we play and buy what we want, without thinking or seeing colour. That is true equality.
Witch-hunts of old men, too entrenched in a bygone era to change their ways, are another dead end. The goal should be intellectual evolution: to be more tolerant than the previous generation. It is a forlorn hope that a 65-year-old raised before mass immigration will think about race with the same sensitivity as a young person brought up in multicultural Britain.
        - Martin Samuel, "The Times"

The 1936 Olympics was one of the great historical occasions where vast, competing ideological abstractions are rendered into one iconic event of black-and-white simplicity. Jesse Owens's victory over Erich Borchmeyer in the 100 metres was a symbolic affirmation of a common humanity over pseudo-scientific categorisation of Nazi racial science. It was only through luck that Owens has been remembered by history. In the season leading up to the games he had been beaten in five out of six meetings by another African-American sprinter, Eulace Peacock. Unfortunately Peacock suffered a hamstring injury just before the Olympic trials and failed to qualify. Owens's multiple victories — in the 100m, 4x100m, 200m and long jump — certainly irked Hitler, but he was adulated by the Berlin crowd for whom a black man was not so much a threat to the purity of the Volk as a curio who would be safely shuffled out of the country at the end of the games.
        - Jonathan Beckman, reviewing "Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream", "Observer"

"He is a credit to his race — the human race."
        - Jimmy Cannon, about Joe Louis

Recently, I listened to an announcer refer to Lewis Hamilton, the rookie sensation Formula 1 driver from Hertfordshire, England, as African-American because there was simply no other acceptable way to refer to him.
        - A letter writer to America's "National Review" on the madness of political correctness

Rugby is a game of violence. It is supposed to be. Both codes. It is a game of brutal physical confrontations: individual against individual, group against group. That is, if you like, the point. All the territorial ball games are mimic battles and rugby is the closest sport gets to the real thing. All the more reason, then, for it not to go over the edge.
Without violence, rugby is nothing. Would the streets of London have been lined for the winners of the Touch-Rugby World Cup? I think not. But violence is not the whole of the game. Rugby is not 15-man or 13-man boxing. Violence is the setting, the context. Without violence there is no courage, without mayhem there is no grace, without pain there is no exalted relief in victory. Memo to all who run both codes of the game: rugby is a mimic war. When we want real war, we turn to the front of the newspaper.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times"

Sport is dead when citius, altius, fortius is replaced by fixius, drugius, corruptius. We have reached the logical end of sport. Everywhere you look, you find stories of people who have taken the sport out of sport. We expect to hear the decisions on the Italian football match-fixing scandal. The football itself is a sham, going through the motions. The real action takes place on the telephone in the weeks before the game. In England, three jockeys have been suspended from riding after being accused by police of fixing races. The dominant point of this year’s Tour de France is not the pedal-pushing but the second significant drugs scandal in eight years: the revelation of the incontrovertible fact that professional cycling is institutionally corrupt. These three things — match-fixing, race-fixing, institutionalised drugging — come down to the same thing, and it is the greatest error in all of professional sport. The error in question is that sport is about winning. Winning at all costs. That winning is not the most important thing, but the only thing. If you sincerely believe that winning is everything, all the rest follows. If the only ethic is victory, then these things are not options. They are demanded: the least you can do... The essential fact about sport is that you don’t know what happens next. No one does. We watch sport not for the victory, but for the struggle. In other words, those that seek victory at all costs are destroying sport. They are creating a spectacle in which we, the punters, have no interest. People are far less interested in track and field athletics than they once were because there has been too much drugging... Professionalism will be the death of sport; or it will, if we carry on believing in it. But at last, we are beginning to see the price of winning at all costs.
        - Simon Barnes, with a foreboding warning, "The Times"

Bob Woolmer's murder isn't simply a sign that cricket fans have gone off the deep end. Rather, it's a signal of the sport's profound internal malignancies. Pakistan's extraordinarily feeble performance against Ireland has raised suspicions that the match was fixed. It is a measure of how much corruption has stained cricket that the burden of proof now lies with those claiming the match was honestly contested.
        - Alex Massie, "Slate Magazine"

All things considered, and taking one thing with another, I think it is fair to say that the cricket World Cup of 2007 really was the worst sporting event in history. It went on for match after match after match, and practically all of the matches were dull. It was like the couple copulating in the next room: you can’t believe they’re still at it, or still want to be. Can anything compare in tedium and anticlimax? It had everything, mismatches, one-sided games, games that didn’t matter much, games that were simply short of action or drama or interest. International sporting organisations across the world are invited to study this event long and hard: it is the perfect template for the ruination of a sport.
The tournament, in its desire to seem truly global, had far too many no-hopers. Bermuda, indeed. After that, the so-called Super Eights required 24 games to reduce eight teams to four. That is exactly 20 too many. How can sports administrators make such crass errors? Simple. They aren’t interested in sport. They are interested in power. The more countries you involve, the more power you have. The more money you make from a multination tournament, the more power you have. As a result of this simple rule, all World Cups in all sports have become exercises in revenue-raising and colonisation.
Administrators want the money and the power that goes with a bloated tournament and thousands of hours of television. They don’t care that it produces tedious sport. No one has told them that if sport gets tedious, we – the people who matter – will stop going or watching or caring.
Moral: every sporting tournament should have sporting excellence as its sole aim. Anything else betrays the spectators, the television viewers, the athletes and sport itself. And now, with the cricket World Cup of 2007, we at last have the perfect example of this principle.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times"

India's captain, Anil Kumble, complained immediately after the match that "only one team was playing within the spirit of the game." He was echoing a moment ingrained deeply in Australian cricket's folk-memory, in 1933 when its captain, Bill Woodfull, told England's manager, Pelham Warner, "There are two teams out there, and only one of them is playing cricket." That was when England took the pursuit of winning to the extent of having its fast bowlers aim their deliveries at the bodies of Australian batsmen. England won the series, but memories of its brutal ruthlessness has fueled Australian cricketing nationalism ever since.
        - Huw Richards, on the Harbhajan Singh affair, "IHT" (Jan'08)

There was a time when you could count on the sports section for news that was at least conclusive. Somebody won and somebody lost. One player was the hero; another the goat. And, in the golden days of sports writing, you could find prose that would transport you and give you that sublime feeling that comes with understanding something true about the world. There are still gifted writers working the sports pages. But something has happened to the sports pages. You don’t get the old feeling of clarity when you read them these days. Maybe it is because the games are all on television, and even if you miss them, the scores are there on ESPN, where you can catch up on who won and lost while you are shaving. So the stories on the sports pages are now about this other stuff... Michelle Wie had fired her agent, The University of Miami football team was also in the news. But not for its blowout win over Florida International. Seems that during the game there had been a brawl that was ugly even by Miami standards... Vastly more time and ink was spent covering the brawl and its aftermath than was devoted to the actual game. There were, of course, other stories on the sports page. A pitcher for the Chicago White Sox was being questioned after a shooting in the Dominican Republic. And, the cops were considering arrests after a brawl at the end of the Dartmouth/Holy Cross football game. It was enough to make the old-fashioned fan long for one of those feel-good stories about steroids.
        - Geoffrey Norman, "National Review"

The longest civic losing streak in North American major-league sports is now in jeopardy. The city of Cleveland last celebrated a major sports title on Dec. 27, 1964, when the Browns upset the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League championship game. In the more than four decades since, the Indians once took a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, while the Browns endured three of the more painful playoff losses in NFL history. But no major Cleveland professional team has won another championship. Those teams have played 123 combined seasons since the Browns' 1964 title, making Cleveland the hardest-luck sports town in the United States. On Sunday night in San Antonio, the Cavaliers lost Game 2 of the NBA finals and trails, 2-0, in the best-of-seven series. If Cleveland's streak is going to end this month, it will have to involve an upset as big as the Browns' victory over the Colts.
        - David Leonhardt, on Cleveland's unenivable record, "IHT"

Placing first is not the same as winning.
        - Roger Ebert, "Chicago Sun Times"

Jimmy White expressed the view that snooker would be in dire trouble if reigning world champion, Ronnie O'Sullivan, decided to quit... While much has been made of internal squabbling, leading to departing sponsors and plummeting prize money, the players must also shoulder responsibility for snooker's decline. They're probably heartily sick of being reminded of the 1985 World final when, at 23 minutes past midnight, a BBC TV audience of 18.5 million watched Dennis Taylor sink the last black of the last frame to beat Steve Davis 18-17... By 2007 viewing figures for the Crucible climax had dropped to 8 million... Most sports experience organisational problems, but the primacy function of professional sports people is to entertain. If players lose sight of this basic requirement their sport is headed for trouble. In snooker's halcyon years, Steve Davis was the self-proclaimed boring straight-man to a motley group of eccentrics... By its muted, precise nature, the game has limited appeal as a spectator sport. Which means that, skilled as they may be, it requires more than earnest, po-faced practitioners to draw a broad audience.
        - Dermot Gilleece, on the decline of snooker, "The Irish Independent" (Apr'09)

The game's popular explosion in the mid-70s and 80s was built on a gallery of personalities who were formed far away from the money and lights of the TV era. They had honed their skills in those smoky, beer-stained snooker halls usually found on the weong side of the tracks. It was the game of truants and urchins and hard men with soft hands... But Stephen Hendry was the first of the accountants. Back in the day, a proficiency at snooker was a sure sign of an ill-spent youth: someone who knew too much too young about adult life and its temptations. Now it was the sign of an equally ill-spent youth: someone who knew nothing about life because he'd passed his teenage years practising on the table at home. Hendry was the first of the homgenised, hothouse flowers who would raise the game to new standards and shed its popularity in the process. They never understood that the public wanted personalities first and technicians second... It's still hard to warm to Hendry, much as one would like to given his status as the greatest player ever to play the game.
        - Tommy Conlon, "The Irish Independent"

The horse racing handicapping system does not reward brilliance, it punishes it. If tennis were run along these lines, Roger Federer would start his matches two sets down. But tennis is not a betting sport in the way that racing is. Nothing is.
        - Clare Balding, "Handicap System in at the Root of all Evils", "The Observer"

After all, if you remove the gambling, where is the fun in watching a bunch of horses being whipped by midgets?
        - Ian O'Doherty, not a fan of horse racing, "The Irish Independent"

"There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot."
        - Steven Wright

"The worst day of fishing beats the best day of working."
        - Martin, "Frasier"

Sports are the reason I am out of shape. I watch them all on TV.
        - Thomas Sowell

"It's like trying to pin down a kangaroo on a trampoline."
"It's the nearest thing to public execution this side of Saudi Arabia."
"The atmosphere is a cross between the Munich Beer Festival and the Coliseum when the Christians were on the menu."
        - Sid Waddell, legendary Darts commentator

The format had, at its heart, two great, human universals: the need to wrestle with important questions, such as "What is the capital of Denmark?", and the desire to throw darts.
        - Giles Smith, on the popularity of "Bullseye"

Tibetan monks spend years in search of the joy that darts fans feel during a match... It is a great celebration of men in a state of perfect happiness. You can see it in their eyes, this feeling of liberation which comes over them at the end of set, when the theme music stomps out of the big speakers and they all rise like creatures from the Neanderthal swamp who have heard music for the first time and they wave their arms and pump the air, Gazza-like, and dance around in celebration.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Irish Independent"

Scorpio(Oct. 24-Nov. 21): There will soon come a time when your happiness depends on where and whether an enormous man catches a ball.
        - Horoscope from "The Onion"

"Let me just leave you with this thought. You love the Sox, but have they ever loved you back?"
        - Fever Pitch (US)

"I don't need a man. I'm perfectly happy being alone."
"Well, you'll have plenty of time to be alone once you're in a relationship - that's what football's for."
        - Caroline and Annie, "Caroline in the City"

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
        - George Will

Baseball is like church: many people attend but few understand.

"All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things."
        - Bobby Knight, on sportswriters ***

"One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball."
        - Don Carter ***

*** More American Sports Quotes — The Story Behind the Glory by Bill Cairo


Ladies snooker "will never be as exciting as mens" says controversial cleric Abu Hamzid.
        - Headline from BBC2's "Broken News"

Hypnotist: You will beat Shelbyville.
Team: We will beat Shelbyville.
Hypnotist: You will give 110%.
Team: That's impossible. No one can give more than 100%. By definition, that is the most anyone can give.
        - The Simpsons

"I can't remember a time in my life when I haven't hated football. Come on—anyone who paid attention to my career must have suspected it. When did I ever look like I was enjoying myself? When did you last see me smile on the sidelines or in the locker room? You must have at least wondered why I was always so angry with everyone around me. I'll tell you why—I was goddamn miserable. Football sucks... All that pressure, having to deal with all those dumbass players, just to play a game that's basically a lot of choreographed shoving? ...Solid-gold citizens, football players. If they're not boring as hell, they're arrogant drug-crazed felons."
        - Bill Parcells, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, interviewed in "The Onion"

Continuing a Yankee tradition that dates back to the teams of the early '80s, owner George Steinbrenner formally appointed recently signed centerfielder Johnny Damon as the team's new scapegoat. "This position comes with a lot of responsibility, as the scapegoat will be held personally accountable for every loss this season," Steinbrenner said in a statement Tuesday. "Even though he is new to the city and organization, and he is coming over from our division rival Boston Red Sox, and he has yet to play a single game in a Yankee uniform, I am confident that these factors will only facilitate Johnny Damon's transition into this role. If the Yankees start losing—God forbid—then at the very least, the players, the fans, the New York media, and myself can take comfort in knowing the exact reason why."
        - from "The Onion"


Too few of us realise what we have in golf, a game that provides small miracles of pleasure almost from the cradle to the grave.
        - Hugh McIlvanney

Golf, like Art, is a goddess whom we must woo from an early youth if we would win her; we must even be born to her worship.
        - H Rider Haggard

Stroke play is a better test of golf, but match play is a better test of character.
        - Joe Carr

Everyone is studying golf technique like mad. Every young lad now aspires to be another Palmer or Nicklaus. We may go centuries before we produce another playwright.
        - Joe Carr, in the 1960s

The least thing upset him on the links. He missed short putts because of the uproar of butterflies in the adjoining meadows.
        - PG Wodehouse

The number of shots taken by an opponent out of sight is equal to the square root of the number of curses heard plus the number of swishes.
        - Michael Green

I need 2 sherpas, one to carry my clubs, the other to carry me.
        - Brian Barnes before the '91 German Open on the hot, mountainy Dusseldorf course

I couldn't live anywhere other than Britain, but I'd quite like it parked off the coast of Australia.
        - Mark James

I really don't enjoy playing this game at all anymore. You would have to be a pervert to enjoy the sort of feelings that I went through out there.
        - David Feherty, after winning the BMW International in 1987

I considered beating the living daylights out of it but its probably got a wife and snakelets to look after.
        - David Feherty, after being bitten by an adder at the PGA Championship

David Feherty once trained as an opera singer with a Polish woman in Belfast.
David Feherty is fed up being reminded that he once trained as an opera singer with a Polish woman in Belfast.
Were he allowed to rewrite the Rules of Golf he would insert a new rule, 'You are allowed to tackle your opponent.'
Any Jack Nicklaus designed golf course is his definition of 'Hell on Earth'.
After he won the Italian Open in 1986, he sang a sparkling rendition of 'Just One Cornetto' on BBC Radio 2's Sunday Sport.
        - What You Ought To Know About David Feherty

"The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent’s high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun."
        - Hunter S. Thompson, describing a game of "Shotgun Golf"

"Nothing increases your golf score like witnesses."
        - Anon

"I can't believe you're watching an old golf game instead of eating dinner with your family. You already know how it’s going to turn out!"
"Well, that never stopped people going to see 'Hamlet'."
        - Emily and Richard Gilmore, "The Gilmore Girls"

In golf, Americans support America, Europeans support their own. The Brits follow Montgomerie on the circuit, we support Clarke and Harrington and McGinley, the Spaniards Garcia and Olazabal. Sport, like politics, is local. The players come together once every two years under the Europe flag, but it's a flag of convenience for the week of the Ryder Cup and after that, Europe recedes again into that amorphous identity that doesn't really hold any claim on our loyalties. Any professional golfer this side of the pond will say it's a life's ambition to play in the Ryder Cup. You will rarely hear them say it's a life's ambition to play for Europe. In fact, if any flag has bonded the players together over the years, it hasn't been the Europe flag but the flag of the United States. They might all be millionaires but when faced by the superpower they have reacted like downtrodden underdogs and raised their game.
Perversely, while American players have had no similar identity issues, their patriotic solidarity hasn't always translated into superiority on the golf course. The improbable irony is that European Ryder Cup teams, by virtue of their weak political identity and strong team ethic, have managed to make the point that sport is about people first and flags second. Which is more than anyone could have hoped for from an event that has become the epitome of corporate, fat-cat sport. One of Sky Sports' reporters went looking for excitement on the streets and didn't find much. 'I couldn't,' he said, 'even find any excitement in Naas'.
        - Tommy Conlon, as Ireland hosts the 2006 Ryder Cup, "The Irish Independent"


"Teddy McCarthy to John McCarthy, no relation, John McCarthy back to Teddy McCarthy, still no relation."

"Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy."

"Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar, I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal, the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick. Fox to the 21 fires a shot, it goes to the left and wide... and the dog lost as well."

"Sean Og O'Hailpin... his father's from Fermanagh, his mother's from Fiji, neither a hurling stronghold."

"And Brian Dooher is down injured. And while he is, I'll tell ye a little story. I was in Times Square in New York last week, and I was missing the Championship back home. So I approached a news stand and I said: 'I suppose ye wouldn't have The Kerryman, would ye?' To which the Egyptian behind the counter turned to me and he said: 'Do you want the North Kerry edition or the South Kerry edition?'. He had both. So I bought both. And Dooher is back on his feet."

"He grabs the sliotar... he's on the 50 ... he's on the 40 . . he's on the 30 ... he's on the ground."

"I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them. The priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! Forty yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage, it's a goal. So much for religion."

"Colin Corkery on the 45 lets go with the right boot. It's over the bar. This man shouldn't be playing football. He's made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition. Lazarus was a great man, but he couldn't kick points like Colin Corkery."

"Pat Fox has it on his hurley and is motoring well now. But here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail. I've seen it all now - a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!"

"In the first half they played with the wind. In the second half they played with the ball."

        - Micheal O' Muircheartaigh

"The first half was even, the second half was even worse."
        - Pat Spillane

"Its all over...  Jeeeesus! The cigarettes are being lit here in the commentary box,. the lads are getting anxious, its a line ball down there to Clare and who's to take it? Will ye put 'em out lads ye'll feckin' choke me."
       - Matthew McMahon, Clare FM, Munster Final 95.

"Is the ref going to finally blow his whistle? ...No, he's going to blow his shaggin' nose!"
        - Radio Kilkenny, Kilkenny v Wexford National League match

"My only consolation was that I held Tomas Mannion (Galway's corner back) scoreless."
        - Joe Brolly recalls a dire performance against Galway

"It wasn't your fault. It was the feckin' eejits that picked ya."
        - Anonymous fan, giving some faint praise to a player

"Sheep in a heap."
        - Michael 'Babs' Keating's verdict on his Offaly team

"That referee must have no wipers on his glasses!"
        - Eddie Moroney, from his legendary 1992 commentary of Aherlow's U21 Tipperary county win

"I don't want to be biased, but what was the referee at there?"
        - Sean Walsh, of Galway bay FM

A Kerry footballer with an inferiority complex is one who thinks he's just as good as everybody else.
        - John B. Keane

"The stopwatch has stopped. It's up to God and the referee now. The referee is Pat Horan. God is God."
        - Micheal O' Muircheartaigh [1]

"He can take the ball from one end of the field to the other with just the player's occupations."
        - Jack O'Shea, on Michael O'Muircheartaigh's unique style [1]

"The men of Ireland were hurling when the gods of Greece were young."
        - PJ Devlin (c.1924) [1]

"There won't be a cow milked in Clare tonight."
        - Marty Morrissey after Clare's 1992 Munster Championship victory [1]

"There won't be a cow milked in Finglas tonight."
       - Keith Barr, after Erin's Isle 1998 All-Ireland Club semi win [1]

"There are quite a few black and white pictures up there (in the clubhouse), it wll be nice to move them down the wall now."
        - St Vincent's captain Mossie Quinn, after their first All Ireland Club title in 32 years

"If Offaly win the National League again this year it will be the greatest accident since the Titanic."
        - Paul O'Kelly of Offaly [1]

"I find it hard to see how my northern cousins could get so worked up about counties created by British imperialists."
        - Colm O'Rourke, speaking on Ulster TV [1]

"Did you have to explain to the English what hurling was about?"
"No, but I have to explain it to the people of Wicklow."
        - Des Cahill and Dara Briain, former Wicklow hurler [1]

"Any word of the (Clogherhead) Dreadnoughts Sean? Will they ever take on the Man-O-War?"
        - Sean Og O Ceallachain, quoting reactions to his radio club result broadcasts [1]

"The difference between winning a club and a county All-Ireland is when you get a slap on the back after the match, you actually know the person when you turn around."
        - Thomas Meehan of Caltra [1]

"A fan is someone who, if you have made an idiot of yourself on the pitch, doesn't think you've done a permanent job."
        - Jack Lynch [1]

"The International Rules series was a bit like the Vietnam War. Nobody at home cared about it, but everyone involved sure did."
        - Leigh Matthews, the Australian coach [1]

"And Tom Chesty breaks through with Kilkenny defenders falling around him like dying wasps."
        - Micheal O'Hehir [1]

"Paidi O'Se is buttoned up like the most devout girl in the Amish community when it came to the pre-final interview."
        - Tom Humphries [1]

"There is a level of politics in hurling. I don't think Henry Kissinger would have lasted a week on the Munster council."
        - Ger Loughnane [1]

"In the dust of defeat as well as in the laurel of victory, there is glory to be found."
        - JJ Meagher [1]

They were playing automatic football. When one Cross player won the ball another half-dozen began to set themselves up for participation in any one of several possible scenarios.
        - Eugene McGee, "The Irish Independent" [1]

The miracle of the GAA is that it works so well despite itself. Paranoia, self-doubt, trenchant conservatism, fear of outside sports and veneration of the past are all key parts of the GAA psyche. In order to love the GAA, you have to swallow these faults whole.
        - Keith Duggan, "The Irish Times" (2002) [1]

"Several broken sticks, two broken heads, and two bruised fingers were part of the afternoon's play, for hurling, the Irish national game is the fastest and probably the most dangerous of sports. It is a combination of hockey, football, golf, baseball, battle and sudden death. It was a real Irish game."
        - Daily Mail, reporting on a match held in London (1921) [1]

"Could I suggest that in future the GAA allocate a five-minute free-for-all before the television coverage of its games to dissipate the aggressio, tension etc?"
        - Letter to "The Irish Times" (1996) [1]

"Does the GAA take its democratic principles from the Tammany Hall school of democratic politics, or that former great bastion of democracy, the Societ Communist Party?"
        - Letter to "The Irish Times" (2001) [1]

"When knowledge of the rules is the preserve of a few, this confers a certain power on these few, which is unhealthy and undemocratic. Are there 40 people in this hall who could confidently put a motion in order for Congress? Are there 30? Are there 20? Are there 10?"
        - Sean Kelly, President's address to GAA Congress (2004)

"The first time I brought the boys to a match they were chocked at the abuse being heaped on Sean. I kept trying to tell them it was the referee they were shouting at but they said, 'Mammy, the referee isn't bald'."
        - Wife of Meath manager Sean Boylan [1]

"I'm always suspicious of games where you're the only ones that play it."
        - Jack Charlton, asked about hurling [1]

There is something pigheaded about Wexford this season, something pigheaded and perverse and oddly beautiful. In certain lights they are starting to look heroic.
        - Tom Humphries, "The Irish Times" [1]

If Wexford Hurling Ltd was a company and we had produced the results that we have over the last 25 years or so, we would have been declared bankrupt long ago.
        - Phil Murphy, "Wexford People" [1]

"I often wonder if we changed the names of counties and jersey colours and started all over again, would it make a difference?"
        - Kevin O'Brien, on life with one of GAA's lesser lights, Wicklow [1]

Dublin in rare new times.
        - Irish Times headline after Dublin hurlers record a surprise win

There's sunsets and there's the gummy smiles of newborn babies. There's puppy dogs with wagging tails and there's Scarlett Johannsson... But honestly, there is no sight that gladdens the heart quite as much as that which greets you when pull into a GAA club on a Saturday morning. The mini-leagues! Little kids in hurling helmets covering every blade of grass like a happy and un-cordinated army of ants. It's great to see.
        - Tom Humphries, "The Irish Times"

Goalie: Must have 'great goalmouth presence'...which is secret code for being fat enough to have his own gravitational pull.
        - taken from "The Truth about Junior Football"

Bogball and Stickfighting.
        - George Byrne's view of the national games, "Evening Herald"

A prominent rugby coach from the Southern Hemisphere who has been at many Gaelic football matches this summer said that he has given up trying to figure out which way the referee will award a free for a tackle. Will the man in possession be penalised for holding on and not playing the ball, or will he gain a free because an opponent has tackled him illegally?
Well, I have news for the man from Australia. I have been playing and watching Gaelic since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and I haven't a clue either. Gaelic football has regressed to being a sort of glorified contact-basketball.
        - Sean Diffley, "The Irish Independent"

We should wave goodbye and good riddance to the ill-bred hybrid that is the International Rules series... the reality is that Australians are deeply unpleasant when they lose and unbearable when they win. The truth is that, through ignorance and blatant disregard for sportsmanship, they destroy the very sports in which they bend every rule to excel. The truth is that they call 'ultra competitiveness' is in fact a national mindset which elevates thuggery to an art form. Aussies just don't give a XXXX about fair play. All of Ireland's key footballers and those who performed admirably in the first fixture victory were taken out by foul means in the first few minutes. The truth is that if Australia needs to win that much, if they are prepared to besmirch sport and abandon civilised behaviour, they can have it.
        - Jerome O'Reilly, "The Sunday Independent" (Nov'06)

Offaly appear to have made a small error in the paper work involving ordinary subs and 'blood' subs. Did Offaly gain any advantage from the mistake? No. They have allegedly breached a rule so complex in its wording that even experienced GAA administrators can't agree on its interpretation. Vastly experienced Leinster Council officials met in conclave on Monday night and had to concede defeat before asking the Central Council for a ruling... some of the rules are written in such vague wording as to be virtually unfathomable. However, there's a bigger problem. In a new age where everything is challenged, the spirit of any rule seems to mean nothing. Never mind that our Johnny punched an opponent off the ball in full view of everybody. Yes, but did the referee word his report correctly? He didn't? Thank God for that loophole.
        - Martin Breheny, "The Irish Independent" (May'06)

No sports organisation in the world that I know of seems to have as much trouble with its own rule book as the GAA. Every week it seems there is yet another squabble about yet another GAA rule controversy... the long and short of it is that the GAA rule book is a load of nonsense with far too many badly-worded rules, with countless sunsections, clauses, recommendations and whatever you're having yourself... Its time to burn the rule book and start from scratch.
        - Eugene McGee, "The Irish Independent" (Jun'07)

The only acceptable recipients of money from the GAA are administrators, coaches, security, bar and catering staff, hawkers, programme sellers, pirates, general scavengers, some managers... but no players. Stalin or Fidel Castro would love the way the GAA has and is being run. Even if something is wrong nobody questions it.
        - Colm O'Rourke, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

This is Cork versus Cork... and as these people are always right, how can anyone be wrong?
        - Roy Curtis, during the 2008 Cork players strike, "Sunday World"

The GAA is currently in the middle of that disreputable phase that athletics and rugby union went through in the dying days of their amateur eras. They called it shamateurism then and it's shamateurism now.
        - Tommy Conlon, "The Sunday Independent"

The prime motiviation for most of the major decisions taken by the GAA is modern times is money.
        - Eugene McGee, "The Irish Independent"

"There are some things in life that are more important than money and the GAA is one of them."
        - Joe Brolly

"Dublin are playing conventional Gaelic football, Tyrone are playing a system that virtually guarantees them success until they come up against a team that's playing a similar system of play, that's equally astute tactically. The only meaningful battles that Tyrone had last year were against Armagh who played five half-backs. It turned into a war of attrition. It was a totally different level of football in terms of the tactics and strategy than anything else that's going on in Ireland. Tyrone don't have a higher work rate than other teams, it's just that they deploy their players in a more sensible way. They appear to be taking up conventional positions at the outset and try to get back to those at times and it helps conceal it... When Ryan McMenamin breaks up the field to score a point, it is not spontaneous, but painstakingly rehearsed. When the ball drops in midfield, everyone around has a role to fill. When they win back the ball players fan out in concentric rings as they launch a counter-attack in what is essentially a defensive game, with a lethal retaliatory sting."
        - Joe Brolly, interviewed by Dermot Crowe in the "Sunday Independent"

"Kerry's style, with the 'twin towers' up front, is different from what we've played against. Dublin had six forwards interchanging and Wexford had a sweeper so Kerry will be a little bit of a culture shock... If you need to be somewhere we go and track, make a tackle. Different games have unfolded with us playing football on instinct... I know I'm really looking forward to playing on Sunday. It's way different from playing in Ulster... Whenever you're getting the crap knocked out of you in some tight field in Ulster, Croker seems far away. This is our stage, this is our place to shine."
        - Sean Cavanagh, of Tyrone, ahead of 2008 All Ireland final, "Sunday Independent"

Battle-hardened National League supporters are a more weather-beaten animal than their Championship counterparts.
        - Eoghan Corry, on 'fair weather fans', "Evening Herald"

"If we don't do something about it, in 10 years' time there will be no need to start the championship until August because there will only be 4 or 5 counties competing. Hurling is like an old country house where the front has been maintained. It looks grand from the road but when you go inside you find that the place is falling down."
        - Conor Hayes, Galway hurling manager, interviewed in 2006 in "The Irish Independent"

Hurling is, to use the parlance du jour, "a great product", which the GAA should somehow be marketing abroad. The problem is that there are other foreign territories which the GAA might investigate before unleashing hurling on the global sporting community. North Roscommon for example, North Galway, South Kerry, most of Donegal, Louth, Monaghan, Sligo...Those awe-struck foreigners in Croke Park would marvel if they knew how little loved the best game in the world is in its native land... The suspicion must be that hurling is like the Irish language. Everyone thinks it's great stuff and part of what we are and pays considerable lip service to it. But the numbers who actually play hurling are, like those who use the Irish language, disappointingly small.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "Home Truths about Hurling", "The Irish Independent"

One area where there is no recession is in the market for Dublin opinion mongers who will opine publicly that the appointment of Pat Gilroy and Mickey Whelan has “St Vincent’s fingerprints all over it”. They got another run out in the Sunday’s yesterday. I wasn’t at the Grand Lodge meeting in St Vincents when it was decided that Pat Gilroy should be elevated to the seat of Worshipful Master and even if I had been there I would be proscribed from divulging the details. Broadly speaking, however, I understand that after the usual allegorical rituals and handshakes had been performed, it was agreed by all brothers on the square to petition He who is known to us as The Great Architect of The Universe (and to others as Kevin Heffernan) to formerly exalt Giller and to bodily lift him, if necessary, into his new and anointed station in life. At that point, as lodge ritual demands, everyone hopped on their right leg in an
anti-clockwise direction, each mason with his left hand held behind his head. The chant began low and guttural at first – ah, I’ve said too much already. Sorry. (As an Entered Apprentice in the St Vincent’s lodge I am only too happy to discount and refute another hilarious version of the Gilroy appointment story wherein a “three-man” committee (lol) was asked by the county board to choose a Dublin manager and duly reached an impasse in their deliberations. They sat pondering aloud as to what they might do. One member asked who might have been the brightest of the bunch on the last panel of Dubs to have won an senior All-Ireland back in 1995. It was decided that Pat Gilroy was that man. Immediately it was
suggested by a member of the committee – somebody called Kevin Heffernan who is NOT in fact Pat Gilroy’s godfather – that Pat was unlikely to have the time and inclination to do the job.
According to this version of events Pat was subsequently sounded out and surprised everyone by saying he would be willing to serve. The committee not having a large clamour of outstanding candidates to deal with then decided they liked the feel of the appointment (as did just about anyone who has met Pat Gilroy and watched him operate) and proceeded with it. Gas isn’t it? Mickey Whelan was added later on to the ticket by Pat Gilroy himself who being smarter than the average bear realised that Mickey’s training techniques and tactical nous would be invaluable. Enough. The whole thing is too fantastically far fetched to be given credence.
        - Tom Humphries, "The Irish Times" (Jan'09)

[1] Quoted in "God and the Referee: Unforgettable GAA Quotations" compiled by Eoghan Corry

>> More Football & Hurling quotes at the Gaelic Gazette.


"If you sit down at a poker game and don't see a sucker, get up. You're the sucker."
        - Paul Newman (?)

"Humphrey Bogart said he liked chess better than poker because you couldn't cheat at chess."
        - Roger Ebert

"Doyle, I know I gave him four threes. He had to make a switch. We can't let him get away with that."
"What was I supposed to do — call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?
        - Floyd & Doyle, "The Sting"

"Is it a reasonable thing, I ask you, for a grown man to run about and hit a ball? Poker's the only game fit for a grown man. Then, your hand is against every man's, and every man's is against yours. Teamwork? Who ever made a fortune by teamwork? There's only one way to make a fortune, and that's to down the fellow who's up against you."
        - Somerset Maugham, "Cosmopolitans"

Poker is the card game that has come back from the dead with a vengeance and fills up hours and hours of airtime on one cable channel or another. Did our oft-cited forebears ever imagine we'd be spending our evenings watching other people play cards? Aren't there a dozen things wrong with that picture? At least if we watched people play Twister, there'd be some physical movement going on.
        - Tom Shales

An Irishman has lost his high stakes bid to have poker recognised as a game of skill in a British court. The prosecution said once the cards were shuffled in a game of Texas Hold'Em, a 'significant' element of chance came in, bringing the game under the remit of the 1968 Gambling Act.
        - from "The Irish Independent" (Jan'07)

I have yet to meet a rich gambler, by which I mean someone who has made his fortune through gambling (give or take the odd lottery winner). On the other hand, I have never met a poor casino owner. This discrepancy just doesn’t seem to figure in the mental landscape of a gambler.
        - Anjana Ahuja, "The Times"

"I must complain the cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand."
        - Jonathan Swift, "Thoughts on Various Subjects" (1728)

"Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit."
        - RE Shay

"Gambling is a pre-emptive attack on fate."
        - David Thomson, "The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood"

"Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he's losing; nobody wants you to quit when you're ahead."
        - Jackie Robinson

"Sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."
        - Luke Jackson, "Cool Hand Luke"

"You better not have been cheating!"
"If I'm gonna cheat, it's gonna be with a better hand than two pair."
        - from "The Fearing Mind"

"I once played poker with tarot cards.  I got a full house, and four people died."
        - Steven Wright, comedian

"People will pay a hundred dollars for a bottle of wine; to me that's not worth it. But I'm not going to say it is foolish or wrong to spend that kind of money, if that's what you want. So if a guy wants to bet
twenty or thirty thousand dollars in a poker game, that is his privilege."
        - Jack Binion

"The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the chip was a genius."
        - Big Julie

"The game (of poker) exemplifies the worst aspects of capitalism that have made our country so great."
        - Walter Matthau

"At Harvard, he was a very avid and skillful poker player. One of the secrets of a successful poker player is to encourage your opponent to bet a lot of chips on a losing hand. This is a pattern of behavior one sees repeatedly in George W Bush's political career."
        - Thomas Lifson, comtemporary of President Bush in university

Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.

>> More poker quotes collected by Ichiban.


"A man who can't hold a hand in a first-class poker game is not fit to be President of the United States."
    - Former teacher of Richard Nixon

"The next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing."
    - Nick the Greek, legendary Poker player

Whether he likes it or not, a man's character is stripped bare at the poker table; if other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards as in life.

Poker is not a form of gambling; on the contrary, gambling was a style of playing poker - a loose and losing style, at that.

Poker may be a branch of psychological warfare, an art form, or indeed a way of life - but is also merely a game, in which money is simply the means of keeping score.

It's not enough in poker to hold good cards; you have to disguise them sufficiently to make money out of them.

As a reason for substandard performance in the chain gangs of real life, poker has a high masculine approval rate.

The true cunning of Kennedy's route to victory in the Cuban Missile Crisis was to enable his opponent to lose without being humiliated. The alternative might have proved a decidedly pyrrhic victory. Khrushchev had, in effect, folded his hand and conceded the pot.

It is so easy to score free meals in Las Vegas that actually paying for one involves a certain amount of effort.

While I lived in Washington I developed an understanding with my bank manager - it became, I confess, a written understanding - that, no matter how pleading or authoritative my demands down the telephone, he was under no circumstances to wire me more funds.

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