Just before the Wimbledon mens final started I turned on the BBC to see what was going on, and as usual the BBC were interviewing celebrities for no apparent reason. Cue Matt Smith, the current Dr Who, so a prime candidate for an interview, and the first thing he says is "This is the first time he has ever been to tennis at Wimbledon". Now he is a fine actor on stage and TV, but clearly needs someone to write his lines in real life for him as well. If ever there is a way to alienate yourself from the crowds you are with, making crass comments like that is a damn good place to start.
Surely saying it was a privilege to be there, or even pretending to have a passing interest in tennis would be a better idea than rubbing the TV audiences noses in it as to how easy it is to decide to go to the Mens Final, with a British man in the final.. Next up was David Beckham, another "lucky winner" in the ballot to get tickets for Wimbledon held each year. Add into this all the sponsors and hangers on and it is a surprise that any actual fans get in at all. Clearly not unique to Wimbledon, at every major sporting event there seem to be more celebs than real fans there now, and being able to afford the black market tickets obviously has something to do with it.
Like the Chancellor George Osborne being at the Champions League Final, I am pretty sure he is not a Chelsea fan, and doubt he is a regular attendee at any football match, but a sponsor somewhere would have arranged tickets no doubt for him to be in the "box". There are many "celebrities" who do go to sporting events on a regular basis, the pub I drink at before Spurs games has more than a smattering of famous faces drinking out of cans like the rest of us, and pretty much fit in with the rest of the people there. They have season tickets, they go because they enjoy it, not because it is a status symbol to be there.
Similar to the list of celebs who have carried the Olympic Torch, Will.i.Am, Chris Moyles, Jamie Oliver and so on... In Oxford 20 slots were taken by people who work for Coca Cola instead of the locals, it seems that the "ordinary" people are getting sidelined more and more now. Each year there is outcry among football fans as to the small percentage of tickets that each competing club gets for the FA Cup final, and I am pretty sure the ratio of celebs to ballot winners at the Led Zeppelin one off reunion gig was hardly a fair allocation, unless famous people are actually lucky at ballots?
So what is the answer?
With all the sponsorship money in sport these days, and with celebs seemingly willing to pay whatever the going rate is to get into the top events, why isn't it far cheaper for the rest of us to go to the earlier rounds or less glamourous matches? I am sure many people would accept they couldn't go to the final if the earlier days at Wimbledon were half price, or football fans wouldn't mind as much when games are on TV if those who have tickets got half their money back when entering the ground.
This is where the big myth comes in about advertising and sponsorship in the top flight. Those brands are only doing it to make you buy their products, no more, no less. I doubt the board at Investec or Autonomy had much heartache when Chelsea won the Champions League, probably saved them a few quid. Pretty sure that Gatorade were also more than happy with Serena Williams tweeting them after winning Wimbledon Ladies Final - but none of that helps you or me does it.
The thing is that all sport starts at school or in local activities, where people invest their own time and money in something that they enjoy, and want to pass on to their children and others. Regardless of what McDonalds or Pepsi tell you they do it is a drop in the ocean compared to what all the people running childrens football or tennis every weekend all over the country. Despite what the media would let on, there are tennis tournaments all year round in the UK, and football matches on council pitches that are not all about "top 4" finishes, and that is where the actual support for sport is.
Whether it is football looking for the replacement celebration from 1966 or wondering where the "next Andy Murray" will come from, the one thing to remember is that it will be in spite of the celeb elite and corporate sponsors, not because of them.