Sport rant, sport rant…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s weather features brassy bright loud cloudlessness and is accompanied by flopping tired birds and steaming slow-moving mammals.
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I don’t like sport much…
In childhood practical involvement in sport is encouraged, it’s to get the kids to run around a lot and become strong and fit, and is probably a good thing, but back in my childhood, being the one fat kid in the class, I wasn’t very keen on such things. In winter we had to do football which involved a lot of plodding about in the mud and cold, and in the summer we had to do cricket, which actually wasn’t too bad – I seem to remember long periods of lying on the grass with my pals waiting to ‘go in’ listening to the insects buzzing and watching mysterious things going on with a very hard red ball being hit with a clean click, and a gruff teacher shouting things like ‘Well done, that boy!’…
Being interested in and watching sport is very different from playing it for health reasons. There seems to be a bit too much chauvinism and patriotism hanging around it for me. If ‘we’ win it proves that we are better than ‘them’, and if ‘we’ lose, we get upset and can’t really understand how it happened, and resolve to get ‘them’ bastards back next time! Football, or ‘soccer’ as my American readers might call it, is known for some reason as ‘the beautiful game’ – Well, I don’t get that… From what I’ve seen of it, the game seems to be designed to be deliberately annoying and irritating; it’s all run and stop, go forward, go back, stop, start again… No wonder the crowds of spectators get so wound up they start punching each other…
Sport – it’s so full of emotion and upset whilst it is going on, but at the end of the match all there remains, is a note of who won and who lost and by how much written in a little book somewhere. It’s not really very creative is it?…

Now, having just said all this, I am now going to suddenly contradict myself and tell you how I have, over the last few years, come to actually ‘like’ a sport… it is test match cricket…
It is a game where one match lasts four or five days, yes, you heard me right, four or five days! You can have the radio commentary on whilst you busy yourself with other things – or you can watch a one hour ‘highlights of the day’s play’ on TV in the evenings. (Test match cricket used to be on the TV during the day, but the BBC can’t afford it now that they’re paying out lots and lots of cash to all the executives they’re sacking…)
Perhaps it’s a childhood memory of those days lying on the grass in the sunshine with the bees buzzing around that makes me warm to it. The match is like a model of life itself, like a great novel unfolding slowly; it ebbs and flows, the mood changes gradually moment to moment, even the language is wonderful, ‘He’s having trouble because the ball is becoming soapy in the dewy outfield…’ There is an elegance and calmness to the whole thing – even when after five long days of blood sweat and tears the game is drawn, it can still have been a great and memorable match, and people feel better for having witnessed it…
It is the last day, a chap comes in to bat low in the order, it is an absolute certainty that his team will lose the match, the situation is hopeless, but he plays graceful strokes, scores occasional runs, the opposition fielders run, tired and sweating, chasing the ball… as the crowd roars their appreciation of the art…
Excuse me, ‘we’ are playing Australia at Lord’s – England were ten for no wicket last time I heard anything – I must stop writing now, and go put the radio on…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, brain, cricket, drama, existentialism, history, humour, information, magic, mind, poetry, radio, school, style and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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