57 minus 44: Sport, huh…?

Posted: 4 July 2021 in 57 minus
Tags: , , ,

I’m not the hugest fan of Ian Blackford, the member of parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster. That last title means he’s the person who asked questions in behalf of the party during Prime Minister’s Questions.

No, I’m not about to write about politics, and yes, my statement is still relevant, I promise.

As I say, I’m not his biggest fan. I know that, and appreciate that, every MP has their own style… I just don’t like his.

Not entirely unreleased, he’s also continued the by now well-established tradition of party leaders in the House of Commons being utterly shit at reading scripted gags.

David Cameron was the last party leader to carry it off, and even then not always. But May, Corbyn, Swinson… and Blackford, are bloody awful at it. Moreover, they’re so un-self-aware of the flaw, yet so desperate to use a line they like, that they’ll shoehorn it in to something entirely unrelated rather than save it for a better occasion.

Of course every politician gets it right – as far as scripted gags, anyway – sometimes; Law Of Inevitabilities, and all that.

And Ian Blackford did it the other week. Mentioning the Euros – a football thingy, I;’m led to believe – for which Scotland and England had both qualified, he sent good wishes to both teams and then, referencing the SNP’s longstanding mantra on Brexit, Blackford added: “If I may say so, I do hope we don’t see Scotland being dragged out of the Euros against our wishes.

I wonder who wrote the line. Whoever did so, it landed correctly, appropriately and – to give Blackford credit as well – it was delivered perfectly as well. And it got a decent laugh inside the chamber from political opponents as well as friends.

But if it wasn’t for watching PMQs, and me being online, and of course being a news junkie – where you can’t escape it – I’d have escaped learning about it.

No, not the line, good though it was: the football. And I’d have been quite happy to been in that fortunate position.

(And no, before anyone says anything, or gets much exercise jumping to conclusions, it’s nothing to do with the teams ‘taking the knee’; I’ve no objection to that at all… beyond the very mildest of concerns that it’s setting up a potential problem further down the line, when there’s an equally worthy campaign/symbol that teams decide not to honour. But that’s a discussion for another day, maybe. Possibly. But ‘taking the knee’? I’ve no issue with it, in and of itself, at all.)

However, football, any organised sports, as A Thing… is not for me. I not only ‘don’t like’ sports; this is one where, with rare exceptions, I actively dislike them. I’m not apathetic to them, I’m antipathetic. And I’d be quite happy, genuinely delighted in fact, were I never to have to encounter them again. In any way. At all. Ever.

Now I’ve no problem with other people watching, enjoying, participating and love it sports… or I would have no problem with it if they paid me the same courtesy.

Except they don’t. People who love sport proselytise their love to others. If you don’t like sports, then you’re – according to them – objectively wrong. Sport is ONLY good, NEVER harmful.

(I have less distaste for those who merely recommend exercise, running, or going to the gym, by the way, mainly because when you say ‘I tried it, hated it’ or ‘ please don’t suggest it again’, they usually acquiesce and stop recommending it. Less distaste; not none, however.)

Sports don’t bully children, bullies bully children, you can’t blame sports for that‘, goes the blurb.

Except I do, because as I say, people who love sport do, on the whole, not only recommend it to others – to put it mildly -but slyly suggest at best, and flat out state at worst, that if you don’t like sport, there’s something wrong with you, not the sport.… never the sport.

As you might guess, and as so often when someone says they ‘don’t like’ sports, you can trace my antipathy back to my school days. I mean, that’s not the only reason, but it started there. I’m sure that there are some sports teachers now who aren’t sadists, some who understand that making entirely uncoordinated and physically weak do sports under the same circumstances and under the same physical conditions as kids who are incredibly talented at it, and who love it… is a shitty idea.

I’m sure there are sports teachers who understand that it’s just cruel to make wholly unfit (physically, mentally or emotionally) kids do cross country…

…but either there weren’t when I was a child at school. Or if there were, I never came across them.

I was a physically slight, physically weak, child. And if I had a hate, a loathing, for anything as a child, it was for my sports teachers and for organised sports. I was always the last one to be picked for teams, and deservedly so. Because I was shit at team sports.

I was semi-decent with the foil, and ok with the epee, when I got to VI Form. I could hold my own in basketball, but I absolutely hated playing it. I could hit a ball in tennis, but rarely well enough to win a game. And I was utterly and unremittingly shit at squash when I tried it. Badminton I was ok at, but never actually enjoyed playing it.

Sport was just never for me. And I genuinely hated being made to play it, honestly loathed having to.

And I loathed and detested the teachers. Because they were bullies as well, and they either actively encouraged other kids to bully the weaker ones (waves!), or covertly encouraged it by not doing the slightest thing to stop the bullies.

It took me decades to be able to separate out in my mind ‘professional sports’ from the bullshit I went through at school. I just wish it was easier to do so. Because every so often I’m forced to conflate them.

I long ago learned that the fastest way to get me to exit a pub is for someone to switch the tv to a sporting event involving either England football team or the England rugby team. Walking along the street last week, the day that England were playing at Wembley,, I discovered exactly how much I’d not missed drunken fans, alcohol-filled cans and bottles in their hands, screaming and shouting at the passers by.

And if we demurred from being included in their chants and singing and shouting? Somehow we were at fault.

Maybe it’s the tribal element in professional sports that wholly escapes me. Despite me being Jewish, I don’t tend to do tribes so much. Tribal politics repulses me, tribal sporting loyalty utterly bemuses me. It’s something I not only don’t understand but can’t understand. The thought of following a team because they’re ‘my’ team is an entirely alien way of thinking to me. I don’t understand it at all, nor do I understand how anyone takes pleasure in it.

(I tend to notice, as in ‘did they win? Oh. Did they lose? Oh’ to Luton Town Football Club because it’s my hometown team but that’s it, that’s the level of my… interest. If they win, ok. If they lose, ok. Neither exercises me in the least.)

Used to be a standard line in accountancy that any accountant who could find a way of running an accountancy firm without clients would both be happy and make a fortune. To adapt that, I don’t mind sports as a concept, though it still entirely puzzles me; I’m just not too keen on the people who enthusiastically press, push and insist on pushing their enjoyment into my life.

So, yesterday, when what the tv kept calling “England’s most important match in years” was on, I was elsewhere… in Ikea, buying a replacement electric screwdriver.

If you watched and you’re an England or even a sports fan? I hope you enjoyed it. Honestly I do.

But you know what? I don’t need to know you did. And I won’t understand why you did.


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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