I don’t like sports. I never have. It just doesn’t grab me. I’ve just described the whole of the sporting world as an amorphous blob; that’s how much it doesn’t grab me. It’s not any one sport that is the issue: I don’t get any of it. Some people, a ball, a set of rules, and a whole universe of people talking about it. It sounds as silly to me as my love of watching French Presidential politics must do to you.
Liking sport, much like not liking sport, is a life-long passion. Only there’s nothing much which is very passionate about not liking sport. It makes us the odd ones out, and leaves us out of conversations. We are anathema in this world of sport-lovers. I have been asked “What’s your team?” too many times to count. I rarely, if ever, understand which sport the person is asking me my allegiances for.
And doing it in your spare time seems to be taken as a normal thing too. Is this a new thing, which I have missed? I don’t have time in my life for going out there and hitting a ball around with a bunch of blokes I went to school with. I eat, I sleep, I try to get my daughter to do her bloody homework. I have no time for 5-a-bloody-side. I don’t understand how one does, if I’m being brutally honest.
I enjoy watching TV with my partner: we tend to like most of the same things, so it works. I don’t feel any motivation whatsoever to monopolise the TV for hours on end to watch something which only I like. So many people seem to do this, co-opting the communal facilities for sport watching, in effect forcing their significant others in to another room to read a magazine or to watch “her TV” in bed.
I know so many people for whom this is the norm that it makes me shake my head. We live our life together, not apart. That’s the choice we made. It’s the same as disappearing off with your mates to play golf on a Saturday morning, while the wife does the shopping. The house belongs to the both of us, not just to her: I have a part to play in maintaining its working functionality. That’s not golf.
The men I know who participate in sport do seem to have this separatist attitude, and it is one that I do not understand. In fact it is a big part of the reason I hold them in such contempt. They seem to take the view that it is their right to flounce off at the drop of a hat to indulge in scenarios of chance, while their chosen partners stay at home and keep everything actually working without them.
I have no objection to being active: I don’t think I ever have had. But sport ruined it for me. I suppose I should be saying sport at school, or P.E., but it wasn’t that, if I’m being honest. It was the codified game which I hated. Running around, messing about with a ball can be fun; it’s the doing things with that ball which bore me. It always leads to me getting told off for being deliberately crap at it all.
I was never any good at the dextrous aspects of any sports, so I would be repeatedly told off by my classmates for my abject failures as a human being. I would be shouted at for kicking them, when I had about as much control over the locations of my feet as they did the outer moons of Jupiter. Being told off for deliberately doing something I did accidentally makes me absolutely fucking livid.
I just wanted to enjoy being active, without all this pressure of a game being played, of rules no one told me. I wanted to knock about with my friends without being made to feel like an absolute disgrace to humankind. I would probably do exercise nowadays if such things as non-competitive sports had existed when I was first being introduced to the notion of being physically active.
My disdain for playing sports fed perfectly in to an enduring antipathy towards watching them.
I have never understood the appeal of watching people on TV making a ball do things. Yet I have always had a desire to go to a sporting event, just to see what it’s like. Like an anthropologist who will sit and watch a gorilla eating its own shit, I have no interest in the act itself, but I think I might be able to learn something from observing it all the same. Yes, that analogy was deliberately rude.
I don’t get people who like watching sports. They are the bulk of humanity: they add to my sense of “other”. I am not normal, because I did not watch the match. I am not normal, because the idea of watching a sporting event bores me. I am not normal, because I see a pub as somewhere to drink beer.
There are so many people for whom their entire personality is based on watching and playing sports. I find these people as dull as dishwater, and I find their inability to grasp that I am well within my rights to have no interest in their silly little tournaments monumentally insulting. Yet they define normal in our society. It makes me want to distance myself more and more from such notions.
I hear the other dads at children’s parties, and the conversation turns to sport in microseconds. I want to be part of the group, but not on those terms. I can’t decide whether I feel excluded, or whether I impose exclusion on myself. Either way, I tend to avoid conversations with people for fear of sports. I talk to fewer and fewer people every year, and sports are part of why that should be.
I turn on the news at certain points of the year and I cannot escape the sound of people who like sports talking about sports. Wimbledon, the Olympics, the World Cup, the Ashes, the Six Nations: all of these festivals of idiocy have a vacuum-like tendency to suck all of the oxygen out of every aspect of discourse for so long. I record lots of TV in advance, so that I can escape every second of it all.
I want to know that I am not alone in this, but the national fervour in times of sport makes me think otherwise. Even an old granny out walking her dog seems to be waving some patriotic banner when one of our people or teams are competing in some supposedly exciting sporting competition. I hope they do well with whichever sized / shaped balls they are using, but leave me right out of it. All of it.