Monday. 22/2/2021

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Thomas Reynolds

Game of two seconds

Much of the live-sports industry is hotly anticipating the return of crowds later this year but in the meantime there’s growing concern about the next generation of viewers and how they are choosing to consume sports media. A recent report in Italy’s La Repubblica references research that Gen Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) no longer want to watch a full football match; they prefer to view well-packaged highlights.

Some companies are eagerly catering to these changing habits. Buzzer, an app that is currently in development, will allow users to pay for highlights from live sports, as and when they happen. The user receives a notification about the highlight, which they can then choose to watch for $0.99 [€0.82] on their mobile device. Buzzer’s goal is to work alongside the existing media-rights holders to expand value.

But is that really added value? Of course, my favourite part of a football game is when my team scores a goal. But if you lift it from the context of the entire match, the tournament and its history, you’re looking at something altered and abstract. Appealing to the habits and whims of a new generation could directly change the way an entire sport is viewed and valued – and potentially even influence the way it is played.

There’s beauty in a well-fought defensive display resulting in a draw and excitement when tension builds, with one team stringing a few passes together to gain momentum. There’s also nobility in defeat; the highs are much sweeter when you have tasted the lows. These moments define the game but are unlikely to make it onto any highlight reel. Surely that’s a worthwhile lesson in appreciation that extends well beyond rabid sports fans like myself.

Thomas Reynolds is Monocle’s managing editor based in London.

Diplomacy / USA

Connections restored

This weekend marked the start of a new level of US engagement on the global stage. The US re-entered the Paris Climate Agreement on Friday, has offered to restart nuclear talks with Iran and recommitted to a global vaccination drive to curb the spread of coronavirus. On Friday, President Biden addressed both the G7 and Munich Security Conference – the first time a sitting US president has addressed the latter – to set out his foreign-policy goals and reiterate the importance of the transatlantic partnership. In an interview with Monocle, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg called Biden “a strong supporter of Nato [who] has declared that one of his main projects will be to rebuild alliances”. Though it no doubt marks a welcome departure in style from Biden’s predecessor, Stoltenberg insists that the alliance was never in doubt despite the differences between Nato members. “What unites us is bigger than what divides us,” he says. “That’s exactly what we’ve seen over decades.”

Look out for a full interview with Jens Stoltenberg in Monocle’s April issue.

Defence / China & India

Peace summit

Recent satellite images suggest that China has begun the process of withdrawing troops and dismantling infrastructure along part of its vast border with India. It follows a series of skirmishes in the Himalayas over the past year – a deadly incident last June was the most serious between the world’s most populous nations since the 1970s.

So what should we make of the timing of the apparent detente? “The de-escalation has taken much longer than most analysts had predicted but it has gathered significant pace in recent weeks,” Sajjan Gohel, visiting teacher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, tells The Monocle Minute. “That’s largely because Joe Biden has confirmed his commitment to the Quad, which is an informal alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India.” Although Biden’s predecessor was tough on China too, this de-escalation suggests that a collective approach to regional security might be more fruitful.

Fashion / UK

Dressing down

London Fashion Week is underway and UK brands are wondering how to run digital-only shows while navigating the still-dark cloud of Brexit. Earlier this month industry advocacy group Fashion Roundtable sent an open letter to the UK government stating that “unnecessary red tape and costs” caused by new visa and VAT rules put jobs and businesses at risk in retail, manufacturing, modelling and design, industries which together employ almost one million people. The more than 450 signatories included Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith. Adding to the pain that will be felt when the world opens up again was a decision not to extend the Retail Export Scheme, which allowed foreign shoppers to claim back 20 per cent VAT when in the UK. “Sadly the UK doesn’t produce all the raw materials and components we need to manufacture our designs, so [Brexit] makes it even more expensive and complicated,” Kestin Hare, founder of Edinburgh-based menswear label Kestin, tells The Monocle Minute. “With still no clarity on the exact details, we need more support in every sense to make this work to our advantage in the future.”

F&B / Canada

Market fresh

Farmers’ markets in many cities, especially those operating outdoors, have enjoyed relatively good business over the past year. In Toronto many traders adapted to the lockdown by offering online deliveries of locally produced food, vegetables and other goods. To cater to the demand, the city is to get a new indoor year-round farmers’ market in The Junction neighbourhood. It will provide a permanent outpost for the likes of Muddy Crops, a Toronto-based fruit and vegetable retailer that launched in 2012 and began a delivery service last year. The new space, scheduled to open in the spring, will be located in a former industrial patch in the city’s West End which, in the past few years, has become synonymous with a fine independent brewery sector. Tucked between three craft-beer producers, the new market will specialise in harder-to-find produce, such as pawpaws and Peruvian purple potatoes. And, of course, some of the bottles produced in the breweries next door will also be on sale.

M24 / The Menu

The Ethical Butcher

A British business offering some of the healthiest and most environmentally healthy meat you can find. Plus: how Simon Rogan got his new Michelin green star for sustainability.

Monocle Films / The Czech Republic

Clear vision: Czech glass

Contemporary Czech designers are embracing regional Bohemian glass-making traditions while investing in new techniques to create modern products with soul. Monocle films pays a visit to some of the country’s most clear-thinking glass alchemists.

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