Cycling and Football

Cycling is a strange sport. It’s a sport for individuals organised under the guise of teams. Spectators aren’t required to pay to go and watch it. It’s very difficult to sit down and watch a race if you have no idea who the main protaganists are or haven’t a notion of which riders are there and for what reasons.

Cycling fans, for the most part don’t support teams, they simply have a selection of favourite riders. Even if a cycling fan was to build up an affinity with a particualr team, that team may be called something different next year, or it may be based in a different country or it may be gone altogether.

Football on the other hand is very different. It is the quintessential team sport where fans exude a tribal loyalty. Football fans have a favourite team, just one. They pay exorbitant amounts of money to follow their team and cheer them on to victory.

Football vs. Cycling?

And it is a game that can be watched with or without knowledge of the wider context of who the teams or players are. Unlike cycling, there are no players on the pitch who are aiming to peak for a different time in the season and there are no players who actually have no interest in performing well in any particular match. Both teams are just trying to score more goals than the other, simple.


And of course there’s doping. Cyclists dope and footballers don’t, right?

All of these topics combined lead to what are fascinating parallels and differences between the world’s most popular sport and a sport which is trying to emerge globally and attract new fans and new sponsors.

Ned Boulting off of ITV

Ned Boulting is a presenter for ITV for both football and cycling and he was kind enough to talk to me at considerable length about these topics.

I half thought of transcribing the whole thing and writing an article around it but it went on for much longer than I thought (and transcribing takes ages!).

So after a couple of Skype-related false starts and an interruption in the middle in which Ned becomes loud and I become less-so, the following is the chat that we had about cycling and football.

Hopefully, there’s some people out there that will enjoy it. It’s also available to listen to directly on the SoundCloud website.


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  1. Jay Kilburn - May 10, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

    Great interview fella,started cycling myself 3 weeks ago,im upto 20k now woohoo.See ya soon cuz.

  2. Irish Peloton - May 10, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

    Good man Jason!

    Citeh are evil…!

  3. Bikefoolish - May 11, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

    Good work on getting Ned Boulting on! I am throughly disappointed however to his answers about football and doping. Ned acted like the aforementioned reporter who brushed aside the fact that Xavi was taking growth hormones, he acted as though there was no need for football to answer for doping, or worse still…its fine to dope in sports that require skill??!!? Fine dope in Chess all you want but football is a physical game requiring physical effort, they take growth hormone and other anabolic steroids to improve performance, thats fact.
    PED’s may not cause a footballer to trap a ball better or swerve a freekick, however it will allow a player to have the endurance to continuing running and dibbling past 3 players in extra time. PED’s will allow you to recover quicker, be stronger in the tackle, sprint quicker, etc, etc. They are what they are performance enhancing! So lets not pretend that they don’t make a difference because if thats the case then no one would ever take them!

  4. Irish Peloton - May 11, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

    I would agree. I remember Gary Neville saying recently that the big teams tend to score in the last few minutes so often because the other teams simply get tired and lose concentration after 90 hard minutes. It’s not a coincidence that Man United score so many late goals, it’s because they’ve had the ball for most of the match and the other team are exhausted.

    Plenty of teams go out with a game plan to suffocate superior opposition by tracking back, closing down and hassling their oppenents. It seems clear to me, that any PEDs will improve a team’s ability to perform these duties. Duties which have little or nothing to do with technique.

  5. the hitch - May 12, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    A few years back they had the Irish sportsman of all time thing. Kelly came above Roche;-)

  6. Bikefoolish - May 12, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    I guess I’m a little taken back that something so obvious is brushed aside like. Ned seems like a smart bloke I can only assume there are other motives at play, (as a football journalist)for him to be so flippant.
    P.s will have my site up and running next week, will ping you an email then!

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