it comes to sport I am not particularly interested. Generally speaking,
I look upon them as dangerous and tiring activities performed by people
with whom I share nothing except the right to trial by jury. (Fran
Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, 1978.)
With the brief to find an angle on the issue of sport, I enlisted the
assistance of my most valuable and informative sources. Get your
boyfriend to write it, hes a boy offered my mother (perceptive
and accurate as ever). Boyfriend in question looked alarmed and asserted
"Im not going to talk about sport, it's bloody pointless".
So how true is this statement? Sport to me is epitomised by the action
of leaving the room after my father has entered with the intention of
switching on rugby or cricket. Sundays are inextricably linked with
the migraine inducing sounds of Formula One (sorry God). My dad would
announce, to anyone who looked like they might be vaguely listening,
before each race that this was going to be a really good one
. And he was always wrong; every race was the perfect dictionary definition
of monotony. Except of course when drivers were involved in horrific
crashes hardly something to wish for and not particularly frequent
anyway. Perhaps they could spice it up a bit
well probably not,
forget that, Im boring myself just writing about it.
Im on no mission to abolish sport. As a small child I was desperate
to be an ice skater. Gracefully, I would pirouette, spin and glide,
reaching a grand finale via tripping over furniture or stubbing my toe.
The sitting room of a small one bedroom flat is no substitute for an
ice rink. I bet Torvill and Dean never had to perform in such deprived
circumstances. At ten I achieved my dream to ice skate; the experience
was thoroughly disillusioning. I had all the co-ordination and grace
of a camel and, worse still, the skating boots that I loaned were a
scuffed, dull brown. With hindsight I realise that my attraction to
this sport had little to do with admiration of athleticism and skill
and more to do with an overwhelming desire for those dazzling white
Nowadays I prefer to watch the gymnastics. This is in part a masochistic
ritual. However much I might desire the capacity to perform these stunning
feats of athleticism, I am intensely aware that I am too old and too
heavy. This is what I find most disturbing about sport. If I wanted
to be an Olympic swimmer or a Wimbledon champion, then I couldnt
be. Twenty-one years old and past it. Depressing and highly annoying.
So I shroud my envy in pithy comments and outrage. God, look at all
those little Romanians that can not be a natural shape for a
she looks twelve years old? Shes thirty-seven! Look
at the shadows under her eyes
I reckon they keep them in captivity
with no food and water, somersaulting day and night
no wonder shes
smiling, shes bloody relieved to be out of Romania
they cry so much after taking a tiny step backwards when landing a quadruple
half-twist, double flip somersault
I fool myself. Well almost.
But of course all this is not proper sport. Look at the
system for judging ice dancing for instance; it is basically dependent
on the prejudices and bias of the nations involved in awarding points.
Its all subjective the (male) sports enthusiasts in my household
would say scornfully, its not fair, its not cricket
Ah cricket, a game named after a small, green, springy insect and scarcely
Cricket is a game which the British, not being a spiritual people,
had to invent in order to have some concept of eternity. ( Lord
Nuff said really. Then there is golf, or as Mark Twain so perceptively
put it a good walk spoilt, another sport that could be enlivened
say the presence of ferocious, hungry, wild animals. Let
several tigers loose and see who manages a hole-in-one before being
savaged. After all, extreme sports are very fashionable at the moment.
In general therefore, its not the existence of sport that bothers me
but how seriously it is taken by those involved. Ever actually read
the sport section of The Times better than Nytol I assure
you. And I wont even begin to discuss football hooliganism. Sport
seems to impinge on everything. For example it is the natural enemy
of the sci fi fan. Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (insert
name of programme that is one of the few you might actually consider
worthwhile paying your licence for) will not be back for a fortnight,
instead viewers a wonderful treat live uninterrupted snooker
coverage. Snooker a sport best performed under the influence
of large quantities of alcohol allowing the game to progress with the
participants oblivious to the fact that the second ball potted was the
Oh thats pool is it. Well never mind, same principle.
Would provide more compulsive viewing actually.
Maybe what Im trying to impart is the idea that there is no point
watching sport. Get out and play it you lazy sods. Even I can see the
Unless it kills you. This is quite common apparently,
I had a teacher who had three friends killed abseiling, three potholing
and three rock climbing. However, this might prove nothing other than
the obvious dangers of befriending a Welsh humanities teacher. Oh and
there is the issue of the violence, injustice and jealousy inherent
in sport. Basically sport is fine and lovely if it is in no way competitive.
As with many faced with the British educational system I was traumatised
by my early involvement with sport in the form of P.E. Nevertheless
I did fall prey to its attractions in various forms. It was everywhere.
It was the peer pressure. Everyone was trying it. My friends told me
it would make me feel great. So I tried horseriding dangerous,
addictive, a costly habit. I did all that up, down, up, down, trotting
in circles with my hands on my head which is compulsory in all English
riding establishments. I attempted both showjumping and cross country
in an uncontrolled and precarious manner. Now however I find myself
very much aware of the fragility of the human form why try to
control and interact with an animal with such a strong flight instinct?
Better off riding animals of prey such as tigers; just remember to aim
them straight for golfers and dont fall off at the teeth end.
So then sport more dangerous, dirty and debilitating then sex,
drugs and rock n roll. Why bother?