Wednesday, September 5

A question of sport

Sport has been very much in the public eye this summer, for obvious reasons, and living in London it has been impossible to ignore the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In general I have very little interest in watching sport either on the television or live - while I love to walk, cycle and swim these are very much fitness activities for me, and any competitive spirit I feel is only in terms of improving my fitness and stamina against my own standards.

So I was quite surprised to find myself drawn into the excitement of the Olympic Games, regularly watching highlights on the TV and local big screens, and even trying to get last minute tickets. I didn't manage it for the Olympics but last week I finally got to go to Greenwich Park to watch one of the heats in the team test, which basically involved a dressage round.  

There was lots of queuing involved in getting into the park, and once you were in, lots of queuing for food and drink, especially if you didn't time it right. We only had to queue for about 10 minutes for our cup of tea...

The event was not the most scintillating, but the views from the stands were lovely even with the dark skies which threatened, and eventually delivered, heavy rain. My ignorance of the event and how it is  marked meant it was difficult to know when someone was doing well, except by the marking at the end of the round. I guess that's when TV commentators can be useful - if they are good, they can explain why someone gets marked up or down or whatever. Without any commentary, I was a bit lost, as I suspect were many others.

On Monday I went to my second Paralympics event - this time in the Olympic Park, which was a fabulous experience. So well organised, efficient and friendly I couldn't quite believe I was in the UK!

I loved all the banks of wildflowers around the stadium and the waterways and their bridges. Only got chance to go in a couple of the venues - the square ones unfortunately - so just had to gaze longingly at the groovy ones and listen jealously to the roars of excitement coming from within.

Wheelchair basketball - pretty damn vicious!

We stayed until the lights came on and enjoyed a more chilled out park, beautifully lit and glowing. Shame the generic 'ale' that was sold in the beer tent was so poor we didn't want to hang around for a second one!

Sport has also been on my mind in a different way. A few weeks ago was the start of the premiership football season and it was a strange one for me this year. Soon after taking up with the Curse a decade ago, when the extent of his football obsession began to be fully revealed to me, its annual arrival became marked by the feeling of a big cloud of gloom descending on me. Until I met him, I had never been in a relationship with anyone who was really interested in football - and certainly not to that extent. I never understood how anyone could let something rule them so comprehensively, something they had no influence on, or control over. When you generally have the power to change things for the better in your own life with decisions about where you go, who you see and what you do, why let a team of footballers control whether you are going to be happy or sad when you wake up the next morning? Holiday travel and weekend events had to be planned around matches, and often when we were away there would be at least one evening when we had to seek out a pub with Sky Sports where he could watch the game.

Over the period of our relationship I became much more knowledgeable about the sport, not just the rules of the game but how each competition, league and international worked, group stages, knockouts, etc etc, the transfer season, the FA and FIFA, the influence of Sky on kick-off times and match dates, the whole business side of the premiership and its teams and so on. I found myself moderately interested in it as an impartial observer, and I even travelled with the Curse to visit cities where European matches were to be held - Rome and Bordeaux, for example - although I usually came home before the match itself. Yes I did go to a couple of matches at Stamford Bridge to see what it was like, and although I enjoyed the spectacle and the energy in the stadium, I couldn't imagine building a life around it.

The summer break would be great for me if there was no competition going on, but by early August, the Curse would be bored and fractious, anxious for it all to start again. The kick-off weekend would generally be marked by watching as many matches as possible and I would be reminded of the months ahead. I usually found it pretty depressing.

There are many things I miss about him and our life together, but this is definitely not one of them. This year's start to the season has passed by almost unnoticed, leaving my mental health so much the better for it.


colleen said...

I feel exactly the same way as you about sport and was surprised at how much I enjoyed my day at the Paralympic Games. That, I felt, was as much about atmosphere and the power of the crowd - how I would have loved to be there when Osborne was booed (gives you some insight into the Roman's idea of games too).

I worked once for a woman at HSE who loathed sport with a passion. Her reason for this was a visit to Stoke Mandeville where most of the crippling injurie she saw were, she said. the result of sport.

The Happy Pontist said...

Nice flower photo - the planting in parts of the park was one of the best things when I went there a week ago!