I woke up thinking about sport today. The World Cup final happens later, along with the Wimbledon Tennis final too. For the last three or four weeks, the television schedules have been consumed with sport of all kinds. Not just the Football and Tennis, also Darts, Golf, Formula One car racing, and for all I know, Tiddlywinks and Pick Up Sticks. Most people are sport-mad it would seem, and don’t care what they watch, as long as it qualifies as a ‘sport’. Cycling, Marathons, Athletics, Swimming, Cricket, Bowls, Curling, the list is endless, and they all have their devoted followers.
But they don’t have me.
I haven’t followed sport since I was young. Unless my Dad or someone else wanted to watch it on TV, I never bothered with any of it. But if he was home, then I could guarantee endless hours of Snooker, or anything else sport-related being shown. I grew so bored with it in my teens, especially when there were so few channels to choose from back then. He would even watch Golf, though he never once played the game. It was implied to me, in no uncertain terms, that real men watched sport, any sport. If I didn’t want to watch any, then my gender was in dispute, as far as he was concerned.
It didn’t get any better once I started work. Colleagues would discuss the weekend results with enthusiasm, and visibly blanch when I remarked that I hadn’t watched anything, or checked the scores. New staff would invariably ask what team I supported, so I would make up an affiliation to Tottenham Hotspur, (a top London soccer team) just to save hours of debate and argument. But I rarely knew their last result, or even who played for them, so I had to keep my responses vague. When national pride was on the line, with a big match against another country, or regular events like the Cricket Ashes, or Rugby finals, people stared at me open-mouthed when I said that I didn’t care who won. And I really didn’t.
As I got older, I became ‘Sportist’, openly declaring that I had no interest, and happily debating the reasons why. Formula One was cars just going round and round. Football was all about the money, Cricket was fixed, and rife with corruption, Golf was so dull to watch I couldn’t stay awake, and every Snooker game I had ever seen looked just like the one before. The Olympics were political, and many medal winners were using drugs to enhance their performance, and Tennis was dominated by the same four players, every year. Might just as well watch last year’s final, as the same two were playing in it again this year. I pulled out my soap box, stood on it, and denounced all this national and international sport as dull, boring, fixed, or uninteresting.
It was a lonely place, that soap box.
I got some support from my wives of course. Women (at the time) tended to like sport a lot less than men, generally speaking, and they were pleased to be married to someone who didn’t insist on watching everything and anything. During major tournaments, we would be watching a film on the VHS player, occasionally hearing the cheers from nearby houses, when the English team did something good. During such events, our car would not be flying small England Flags, and I would not be seen dead wearing a shirt with an England motif. No bunting or banners would festoon our house, and I was never seen in the local pub, full of beer and celebrating a success, however major. (Or minor)
Now I am officially ‘old’, I can finally get away with telling people “I don’t follow any sport”. They no longer argue about it with me, presuming I am either weird, or might have early onset dementia.