If you’re a brand builder, you’d probably have warned me off the name Magnificent Irrelevance from the start.
Two 11-letter words? Eight syllables? Are you crazy?
Maybe I am.
A “magnificent irrelevance” is how Hugh McIlvanney once described sport.
McIlvanney was a British sportswriter who wrote for The Observer and The Sunday Times for more than 50 years. I never met him, was never even in his company, but by all accounts, he was as far from the fan-with-typewriter image of the sports journalist as you might get. (Newspaper sports sections have often been dismissed as “The Toy Department” by people doing more important work, in politics, say, or economics, or some other career misstep.)
There’s another good story about McIlvanney. Once, at some event, hearing somebody cheering for an underdog, he said, “You like giant-killers. I like giants.”
McIlvanney took his role, and sport, seriously.
But sport is serious.
Bill Shankly, the great Liverpool manager, was only quarter-joking when he said, “Somebody said football’s a matter of life and death to me. I said to him, Listen, it’s more important than that.”
There are winners and losers in all sports, but those who reduce sport to wins or losses miss the most important thing.
Sport is about people. Sport is about soul. Sport is about stories.
And even in this age of instant video, the writers can capture sport’s magnificence better than anyone.
Over the past 100 years, some of the best writing has been sportswriting.
Sport is magnificent, and yes, in the greater scheme of things, it might be irrelevant.
But its magnificence and its irrelevance is why it’s so important.
This project, Magnificent Irrelevance, is an attempt to honour the sports, and the stories, and the writing, and the writers.
When we launch, the promise will be a simple one: a single story, that’s worth your time, every week.