Unsporting professor in need of long lunch

Ian Wooldridge

Last updated at 00:00 22 August 2001

SPORTSMEN are sitting ducks for minor academics desperately trying to emerge from obscurity by writing some headline-grabbing treatise from backwoods universities.

Britain, particularly on the subject of soccer, has had plenty of them down the years but my latest bete noire is Professor Steven Ortis, who can't be all that intellectually bright because he's actually only Assistant Professor of Sociology at Oregon State, in some place called Corvallis, and took all of four years to interview the 47 witnesses upon whose testimony his thesis is based. If a British red-top reporter took four days to secure the same evidence he would be fired on the spot.

The time warp is hardly surprising. All 47 were women, the wives of professional sportsmen whom he questioned about their husbands' marital infidelities.

Presumably, the other 2,000 understandably showed him two fingers and a door but, with his findings from the 47 who were foolish enough to let him in, Assistant Professor Ortis apparently has 'taken American sport by storm'.

Cor Blimey, Mate - an idiom which may have sent earnest Oregon State University students rushing for reference works about Chaucerian English - do you really reckon that professional sport is the only trade whose practitioners occasionally defile the Seventh Commandment?

If so, tabulated alphabetically for the benefit of his computers, here are some other professionals he may investigate although, at 47 interviews every four years, it will take him until AD 5075 to reach a conclusion: Actors, bullfighters, clarinettists, dentists, economists, farmers, gravediggers, headmasters, interns, journalists, kings, lecturers, masons, nightwatchmen, opticians, politicians, quacks, rocket scientists, ski-instructors, tycoons, university lecturers, vicars, window cleaners, X-ray operators, yuppies and, inevitably, zoologists.

In short, why sportsmen? Why are sportsmen more amoral than members of other professions when unleashed on business conventions or golf tours away from their wives?

Inevitably, a couple of British newspapers have latched on to the dreary litany produced by this tiresome little scholastic jerk to revive past scandals involving some of our most outstanding sportsmen.

I have no intention of repeating their names here because mostly they have settled back into solid marriages.

Nor have I any intention of adding further names to the long list of sporting adulterers or listing the wives who were similarly known to be unfaithful while their husbands were away on long sporting tours.

If Assistant Professor of Sociology Steven Ortis had extended his research to those of us who have firsthand knowledge of these matters, he would possibly have been dissuaded from further research over what, euphemistically, is known as a long lunch.

I doubt, thereafter, that we would have heard a peep out of this little dormitory creep.


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