Well is it just me or does anybody else, who is a big sports fan generally, really think that a lot of sports are just, well, rubbish. Take speedway; what is its appeal? Guy on bike with no brakes gets to first corner in the lead and invariably wins race. Race after race after race. Ten-pin bowling; watch the pro guys do it and every bowl is aimed right, spins in left and hits centre pin for a strike or 9 pins down, spare to follow. Bowl after endless bowl.
Take the so-called sport of darts; aim for treble 20 for several throws then tricksy 3 dart out. Arrers after arrers after arrers. Ice hockey; great skating skills but I’ve never ever been able to follow the puck so it’s meaningless sport. Was it a great shot – who knows/cares? Wrestling – do me a favour. Angling; it’s just cruelty isn’t it? Alpine sports; if you can’t afford to do it, is there anything appealing in it at all? Horse and greyhound racing; in my view anything involving animals is basically circus not sport. Basketball; I know Americans especially will hate me for knocking yet another of their big league sports but it’s basically run down one end, score, run down the other, score, with occasional misses. End result Houston 102 – Miami 99. Every match is the same; one side wins by a few points. Never have I seen the equivalent of a 5-0 hammering as in football, the king of sports.
Ah football. I like several sports a lot – rugby, F1, baseball, gridiron and boxing because of their physicality but they also have some flaws. I quite like watching tennis, golf and occasional snooker because of the beautiful ball control and strategy involvement but there’s no contact aspect. But only football combines it all it seems to me. I’m not saying it’s never dull because watching any team managed by Steve McClaren will dissuade you of that. But as a sporting contest I can absolutely get as much pleasure watching my grandson playing in his under 9’s league as watching the mighty Man Utd playing in the Champions League.
As a sport it’s never, ever predictable. It’s full of controversy and moments of pure brilliance. And it’s run by people who are intellectual and moral pygmies. Which is only fair because at the highest level it is played by people who demonstrate exactly the same attributes. But I love it. I love watching my favourite team(s) but I can also appreciate the beauty in a sublime pass or superb goal scored by a right nitwit, even from the dreaded ‘enemy’. And nothing fuels passionate debate like a highly dubious refereeing decision. It can sustain Talksport Radio’s output for months.
Why do I feel like this? Because I’ve played the game since the age of 5 and, although I gave up game play a few years ago, I still love to chip the ball over my goal-keeping grandson whilst we fool around in the garden. I’ll be knocking a ball around with my grandsons until they take my legs away but I’ll never lose the desire to perfect the Pele feint, Charlton netbuster, Cruyff turn, Best dribble or John Charles header.
I’ll never achieve it of course but I did get close to the Stuart Pierce tackle in my day. Now I could have phrased that better…