Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The West: sport, more sport


It’s that time of year again, when the big sports merge into one great paroxysm of sport and more sport.

It’s disgusting, the amount of sport on free-to-air television and from all seasons.

The only way to discover what season you’re in is to go outside and see for yourself.

Trouble is, I do love a good sport and not just the big two, cricket and Aussie Rules.

No, it gets worse.

I love all-gender swimming, running, jumping, hockey, rugby union, table tennis, lacrosse, surfing, handball, netball, basketball, volleyball and if they are on the telly then I have to watch a little just to see how good the game is and if it is in a state of intense competition with all players fit and firing then I can’t get to bed until 3am or even later if it is the World Cup.

Yes, the World Cup added soccer to my list and I couldn’t get into a delightfully made bed in a small motel in Dunedin, New Zealand, because of the Socceroos game against Italy.

A lot of people look at me, which is fine, it’s when they raise their hands that they worry me.

And when they look, those who know me, or think they know me, or know someone who looks like me, they sometimes say: “What is this with you and sport? You are a cultured man, with fine artistic sensibilities, yet you seem to have a perverse fascination with the brutal arts.”

Oh, I forgot to mention boxing.

This is the big one. This is the one that really gets folk fired up: “You love boxing? Are you mad?”

Some don’t wait for the answer, assuming they know it already and as they leave the room I don’t call them back because there’s not much I can say in my defence.

I have no defence.

And we all know, those of use who watch boxing, that defence is crucial.

But this is not a column about boxing, that’s another column, because I have a defence, of sorts, not really a defence, more an analysis of a psychologically disturbed aging baby boomer whose parents gave him boxing gloves one Christmas and watched in admiration as he beat the living daylights out of anything that moved.

Now, let me say, please, that I do not think that a love of sport in any way negates a love of art and culture.

Think Ernst Hemingway.

Ok, forget Ernest, what about Damon Runyon, Mick Jagger, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Elton John, or Gideon Haigh?

Don’t recognise any of them?

How about Reg Cribb? Now there’s a cultured man, writer of plays, films and small scraps of paper.

Last Train to Freo was a work of Mr Cribb’s and he has been called a “chronicler of our times”, which means he has observed stuff most of us walk past with our heads facing north while shoving icecream in our faces.

Mr Cribb loves football.

He and I have stood together in the front bar of a dilapidated pub engaging in a conversation about some long-dead Greek philosopher while marvelling at the ability of Chris Judd to slip through a marauding pack of behemoths.

Given the propensity of humans to batter the hell out of each other over anything from an imaginary line in the sand, to a few barrels of oil, an insult, or even who has the largest collection of weapons of mass destruction, then thank the gods for sport.

At the very least, while we are engaged in sport we are not beating the hell out of reach other, unless, of course, that is allowed under the rules of the particular sport, or your team loses

Which brings me back to my dilemma, which particular sport?

I’ve got to get out more, get away, turn off the telly, leave the building, use my legs, a car, a bike, anything that will take me away from the torment, the inability to decide which one to watch.

I’ve got to have some down-time, some time to smell the roses, prune the roses, or remove the roses because they drink too much water.

Either that or play a sport.

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