Lockdown Reflections Day 16
I miss sport. More accurately: I miss watching live sport. I really, really do.
It’s Saturday, and I would normally be looking forward to the sports fixtures. There’d be a mixture of club, provincial and international sports events to fill the day. The TV would always be on, even if I couldn’t sit and watch them all, I’d dip in and out of the games throughout the day.
The last few weeks without sport have given me an opportunity to try and work out why I love it so much. And I think I might have worked it out at last.
It is partly about the skill. I am not a sporty person at all. The only game I’ve been good at is volleyball. I am beyond useless at everything else. So I know that there’s a skill level required that I don’t possess, and I enjoy watching it in action.
It’s partly about the fitness and physical abilities. I am not really that fit, and don’t enjoy fitness activities at all. Pushing my body to the limit is just painful for me, because of asthma, and for some reason I don’t seem to get endorphins at all. There’s very little pleasure from physical activity for me. But I recognise and appreciate watching other people demonstrate their abilities.
It’s partly the competition. I am not an overly competitive person... OK. I lie. I enjoy a good competition - I have an actual tattoo because I lost a series of sports bets with a friend. The thrill of the attempt to win a game, a series, a championship is definitely part of it.
But mostly, it’s about the love of the game. By this, I mean that the best sports events to watch are those when it is clear that the people playing or participating in the sporting event are immersed in the sheer enjoyment it gives them. Yes, they’re trying to be skilful. Yes, they’re supremely fit. Yes, they’re trying to win. But mainly, they’re just living a dream.
You see this exhibited in sportsmanship. You see this when commentators resort to cliches like “sport was the winner today”. You see it in those legendary moments when the very best of humanity is exhibited in the midst of fierce competition.
That’s why I get so upset when sports men and women cheat. When they disrespect the game. When they let themselves down in how they treat each other and their fans.
The very best sporting moments I can remember are the great wins for the teams I support. But also the great wins for my rivals. I remember the amazing feats of skill and physical endurance, but also the times when the heroes failed, their bodies let them down and yet their spirit still endured. I remember striking moments of humanity and compassion, more powerful than rivalry and competition. I remember the friendships more than the rivalries.
In the end, I think I love sport so much because it gives an opportunity week in and week out to see the best aspects of humanity, to give us a microcosm of what the world could be like if everyone found their best place in society, lived their dream, played by the rules while stretching the boundaries of their ability, respected each other, and enjoyed living their lives for its own sake.
I do love sport. And I miss it a lot.