As a fervent sports fan who deals with sports on average every 10 seconds per day, I am going to try and sway Nathalie from a non-carer to a carer. This is going to be VERY DIFFICULT but I will at least give it a shot, and if all fails, perhaps I’ll convinced other non-believers that watching sports can be so damn exciting. If there’s no light switch, no falling of coins, perhaps my words may reveal what’s going on in the mind of a sports freak.
Why do I pull out the sports section of a newspaper first? The answer is I MUST know results, who beat who, and by how much, what happened during the race/match/game. My passion comes from having been thrown into tennis, football, running, ballet and more as a young girl in Belgium. Playing a sport competitively as a child made me understand that sports is all about learning a skill and performing that skill to the best of my ability and consistently.
Steffi Graff’s forehand cross-court winner during the Wimbledon final looked significantly easier on TV than when I (tried to) replicate the same shot on a sun-burnt grass court at my tiny local tennis club. The grass was greener in Wimbledon, both figuratively and literally speaking. Watching the great elegance with which Steffi made her opponent squirm — the way she used her physical strength, agility, mental toughness and perfected technical shots all the while being surrounded by the prestige and history of Wimbledon, that’s what had me glued to my TV screen as an 8 year old. That’s the first memory I have of how my slightly abnormal following of tennis began.
Why do 50 English men squeeze their fat Carling-filled bellies in a cheap 20 seater-bus to endure an 8 hour long hellish ride to an obscure town in the North of England to watch their Southern football team get absolutely nowhere with a lifeless 0-0 against a team at the bottom of the table? I believe it is the love and affiliation you build up over the months and years with a team … by watching your 11 men (or women!) perfect their bodies and skill to become the ultimate footballer, to reach the top of their ability week in week out and work together in unison with their teammates. All this to strive for that common goal of beating the twats (I mean the opposition) and to wiggle their way up the table ahead of all the other twats. And although a 0-0 draw may seem duller than a dishwasher, I can guarantee that those 50 beer-bellied men would still have felt an enormous satisfaction from seeing their team try to kick a ball in the back of their opponent’s net for the duration of 90 minutes.
The passion and love for a sport, never mind a team, once ignited can never really die.
I could write a marathon on this and never even scratch the surface of this sport-watching mystery. It’s the affiliation, it’s the competition, it’s the mastery and perfection. But above all it’s something beyond words. So on that note — brace yourself, housemate, I invite you to accept a ticket to watch the volleyball semi-final in Earl’s court at the Olympics with me. I defy you to do that and then turn to me and ask, “Charlotte, why are we here?”
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Note from Nat – shortly after I received Charlotte’s reply, I got an urgent facebook message:
nat i forgot a part about when a fellow country person plays and feeling the pride of when a fellow belgian plays and wins. And the pain of when they loose. DAMN IT!
As Charlotte said, her explanations may only scratch the surface of what drives her sporting passion — with anything so primal, the energy runs so deep it’s hard to answer WHY.