Is This It?

Imagine that you are an Extra Terrestrial life form. A wise Elder with a head the size of a beach ball from a remote planet on the edge of a distant galaxy. You have been chosen by your big-brained peers to undertake a great quest. Because your planet has a problem. As a civilization you have hit a wall. The limits of your species’ knowledge have been reached. You have solved the mystery of negative fusion. You have achieved speeds beyond light. You can even keep ice cream chilled in the warmth of your five baking hot suns using the energy produced by the chocolate flake in the top of your cornet. And still your thirst for understanding is un-slaked. But you can think of nowhere else to go. There are no new leaps in wisdom. No new developments. What more is there to be done? What else is there to understand? What other knowledge has eluded you…?

And so you have been dispatched on a mission to reach out to sentient beings from other planets in the hope of furthering knowledge and advancing evolution. To learn what they have learned. To know what they know. You have voyaged from the edge of the Solar system, travelling at incredible speeds, but even with your advances in engineering your journey has still taken many decades to accomplish, your body and huge, huge brain nurtured in a capsule where you have been in space hibernation. Finally, your expedition comes to an end. Below you revolves the planet Earth. Blue and beautiful.

Hovering just outside the Earth’s gravitation pull, cloaked and out of sight, you scan our news information and social media communications. You learn about us. You come to understand our values and what is important to us. And so what do you learn, Yoda? What is it that you see, wise one? What do we prize as the pinnacle of our achievement and endeavour? Is it our sciences, our identification of genomes and the amazing hopes for cures suggested by stem cell research? Is it our  engineering? The amazing feats accomplished with steel and glass? No…? What then? What is it, Yoda…?

It is, apparently, the ability to hit/kick a ball over/into a net/hole/basket.

Assessing the data, the Elder frowns, his forehead the size of a loaf of bread, wrinkling. What? Run that past me again… What is it that homo sapiens, the dominant species of this planet, prize above all other accomplishments?

The ability to hit/kick an air filled ball over/into a net/hole/basket.

The Elder shakes his head. You cannot, as one genius of the ball hitting skill once said, be serious? The wise Elder scans one more time. Yep, I’m afraid so. That’s as good as it gets.

Particle physics? DNA engineering? New alloys to make structures stronger, bigger and safer? Attempts to travel through time? No. Get a net and string it up, and then hit a ball over it. That’s how we roll. We’ve flummoxed you, Dr Spock, haven’t we?

Seeing the tabloid newspapers and the online feeds, I can’t help but think that E.T. would be totally fucking bewildered by our apparent sense of priorities. And not only in sport, but what generally passes as an acceptable level of intelligence in the media. Internet sources reckon that aliens made some tentative attempts at communication back in 2002, but then caught sight of Richard Madeley and thought, fuck that for a game of soldiers and promptly had it away across the universe.

But, going back to sport, it is amazing how highly ball hitting skills are held in modern society. In ye olden days, you had at least to disembowel a political enemy on the field of battle to get knighted. Whereas David Cameron can’t wait to get out the dubbing sword and get present top ball hitter Andy Murray to stand up a Knight of the Realm. Though I can’t help but feel that could backfire when Sir Andy comes out in favour of Scottish independence a year or so down the line.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m against sport. I just feel that we have it out of perspective. Too much money and too much adulation for playing a game most of us got tired of after we left school. And it lacks ambition. Sport should be trying to better what the human body can achieve. Why was Lance Armstrong’s use of steroids etc castigated? If sport wants a totally even playing field, surely one mile runners should be breakfasting on porridge and then having a suet pudding for lunch, just like Roger Bannister back in 1954. Then wearing hobnailed boots and running on cinder. For fuck’s sake, even war takes technology forwards. Why shouldn’t athletes push their bodies as far as science will allow…? At least then E.T. and his pals will learn something from our ability to grown biceps the girth of telegraph poles and run a hundred metres in under five seconds.

It was recently announced that British scientists were asking for £1,000,000 of funding to search for extra terrestrial intelligence. I can tell them now – they’re wasting their time and someone else’s money. It’s like Benny from Crossroads (for those of you who can remember him. For those of you who can’t use your imaginations – think halfwit in a woolly hat) trying to pull Angelina Jolie. She is going to ignore him and keep walking. He has not got a cat in fucking hell’s chance. Before we look for any extra terrestrial intelligence, we ought to try and locate a bit down here on terra firma. Do you know the reason why we have never been contacted by life from beyond this planet? It’s simple. David fucking Beckham. That’s why. Old Golden Balls. Because, if you take any notice of the newspapers and the television, see the fawning Royals and politicians hoping for a bit of the PR magic to rub off, David Beckham is the pinnacle of Human development. David basically is it, we will go no further. And why is David Beckham such a primus inter pares of human kind? Because he’s got nice hair and can keep a ball off the ground using his feet. For fuck’s sake, the same can be said of a chimpanzee. Is this really the limit of our aspirations? Is this really the best use we can make of our bodies and brains? Is this it? Yoda and his mates may have got stumped once they could levitate X-Wing fighters, we called it a day when a man passed a hundred at keepy uppy. We look like inter galactic halfwits. I don’t care how much they turn the volume up at Jodrell Bank, no one from out there is going to be transmitting to us Earthling knuckle draggers. They’ve probably had a look at us and though, hmmm, we’ll give ‘em another couple of million years. They kick a ball well, though. Credit where it’s due. Perhaps they think the value we put on someone’s ability to kick a ball is part of our evolutionary development. That our feet will become the same as our hands. Or would they even view as the most intelligent beings on the planet? For a start ants are very industrious. Not known for their first touch with a long ball, though.

Obviously it’s not just because David Beckham has an educated left foot that we value his opinions on style, the economy, politics and so on. It’s money. He’s loaded. He’s rolling in it. He could wipe his arse on £50 notes and not notice it. Society as we know it is built on money. Not on kindness or humanity. Its foundations are cash. And money elevates the significance of sport and a sporting event. Cash validates it as being something important. Money can do that. Tiddly winks is, like football or tennis, a game of skill. A game, like football or tennis, that we all played as children. There is fuck all money in tiddly winks. No one cares if you can gromp your squidger with a crud under competition conditions. Yet, if someone were to pay you a hundred grand a week for doing it, suddenly you be a super star. Suddenly your opinions would count. And why? Because you could flick a plastic counter into a cup from twelve inches and money got chucked at you for doing it. Genius.

Looking at it, Yoda, you might as well just fuck off now. When it comes to inter-galactic intelligence we’re non-league Sunday morning toe bungers. We’re shit, and we know we are, we’re shit, and we know we are…