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Don't Do It
Oliver Moor

Have you jumped on the sporting bandwagon yet? Many have, of course. Sport’s everywhere these days. It’s hard to escape. And the range of sports is vast, and ever increasing. The Olympics welcome new sports into its fold every four years, and although most might seem pretty moronic, you cannot take away from the fact that somebody somewhere has spent time and money promoting their little hobby to international status. Maybe you’ve invented a sport yourself. Even if you haven’t, if you want to get involved, there’s more choice than ever. Perhaps you’re already involved. You might, for example, play for the village cricket team, and think fondly of those golden summer weekends swatting at a little red ball. Maybe you play for a local rugger team and like nothing better than bouncing your beer gut around a muddy field. Or perhaps you only play darts for your pub team and like nothing better than enhancing said gut. 

Chances are you only watch sport. You might be a season ticket holder at Old Trafford, and dream of that time you saw Ryan Giggs scorching in from the left, past one, past two defenders, to smash the ball into the net and score a third goal for United in a crucial cup match. Perhaps it’s a recurring dream. Perhaps you insert your name in place of Giggsy’s. Perhaps you choose a different sport. So substitute. It doesn’t matter. It’s a dream, right? What harm can it do? It’s not going to happen for real, is it? You know very well that you’re not really ever going to do it. You know that real sport -- that’s professional sport, none of your playing the occasional set down the municipal tennis courts, or struggling down the odd black run, or your ten-odd handicap -- real sport is not for you. You can’t really know a moment like this. Very few can savour that. Only the elite. The best. The heroes. The legends. You are none of those things. And you never, ever, will be. You’re merely average. Actually, a bit below average. You’re mediocre. Poor. Hopeless.

And that’s the point of sport. It serves only to make you feel useless. You shouldn’t dream about it. You shouldn’t watch it. And you certainly shouldn’t do it. 

There are those who say that going to see “the best of the best” is in someway transcendental, and that something marvellous can be learned from watching a human being perform at the height of it’s powers. This is, of course, gibberish. What going to see the best of the best does is to reinforce – yet again – the fact that you are very far from being a human being at the height of your powers, and that you are, in fact, pretty damn pathetic. Going to watch sport brings home the fact that you are a flabby-arsed bumbling incompetent who, if you had any sense, should be praying for death. That’s why therapists don’t usually tell their clients “go and watch twenty-two perfectly-bodied millionaires run about for a while – that should improve your self-esteem.” On the contrary -- it’s self inflicted mental cruelty. The best you can hope for is worry and depression, interspersed with periods of rage. It’s deeply damaging.  


You probably are now

Even thinking about sport can reinforce this feeling of hopelessness. So don’t. Some bizarre individuals will tell you that they derive some sort of perverse pleasure from watching these sporting freaks perform – or that they enjoy thinking about their favourite “sporting moments”. But you don’t want to hang around these deviants. They’re just masochists.  

How about playing sport? Surely this is beneficial? Well no, actually, it isn’t. It merely adds to the already enormous burden of mediocrity. When was the last time you played golf? Or tennis? Or tiddlywinks? And that time – or the time before, or the time before that – did you come off the field of play thinking “Yep, that was me playing at the height of my game – everything came together that time. I’m pleased with my performance”. Or did you think “Hmm, my swing’s still crap. Must be the clubs – I’ll get a new set”? OK then, I hear you say – what about improving your fitness? Surely sport helps your fitness? Codswallop. That too is a complete lie. How many man-days – days which could be far better used putting together some sort of important marketing assignment or something -- are lost through incompetent sporting dabblers turning a knee on the tennis court, or having javelins pulled out of their heads or whatever? I’ll tell you how many. A lot. That’s a fact. And if there’s anything that’s going to make you feel useless, it’s turning up at that important meeting with a squash racket through your neck.
The most important thing about sport is, of course, not to bother with it. By all means attempt to extend your life by a few months, if you must – walk up hills, lift a few weights, whatever: but don’t, please don’t get involved in sport. Don’t play football with the lads. Don’t play squash with your workmate. Don’t even play darts down the pub. It’s not worth it. Leave sport to those who can do it properly and let them get on with it. And don’t bother going to watch them do it. It just encourages them. What you should be doing is absolutely nothing. In the long run, it’s better for you, both mentally and physically.  

NEXT WEEK: Which long-distance ciggy? Top marathon runners reveal their fave smokes

© Oliver Moor 2001

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