Sunday 5 July 2009

All sorts of sports

As I sit here in the full blast of the portable air-con unit I'm half watching the Men's Final at Wimbledon. Half watching because tennis isn't one of the (now) many sports I watch. Ironic, really, as it is one of the few sports I follow that I have actually played!

Ask anyone, I'm not the sporty type - never have been... even when I was younger and a lot fitter. The problem was I could never really see the point of most of the sports we played at school. In winter it was mostly team sports; hockey, lacrosse and netball. I couldn't really fathom why it matter if a ball went in a net or through a hoop. In netball I used to act as a spare referee so I didn't have to run around too much (and you got to blow a whistle!) and in lacrosse and hockey I played goal - I like all the extra padding you got to wear! The only time I played outfield in hockey I ran up the field the wrong way and scored in my own net.

Summer saw more individual sports. Our school was lucky enough to have its own pool so we did a bit of swimming... I am not much of a swimmer, hampered by the fact that I don't like putting my face in the water! We also did a regrettable amount of track and field. This included running, hurdles, long-jump, high-jump, javelin, discus and shot-put. Seriously - who thinks it is a good idea to give someone with no hand-eye co-ordination heavy or sharp objects and ask them to throw them. Long-jump I didn't mind too much, I especially enjoyed raking the sand pit! High-jump and I never got on at all. Hurdles I usually fell over the hurdles and as for running, not something I was terribly fond of. We were doing some 'benchmark' test type thing where the whole class had to run 800 metres... I gave up and walked around the track; at which point my teacher asked me if I ever ran "not unless I'm going to miss the bus" was my cheeky response.

Tennis was always one of our favourite summer sports lessons though. The grass courts were right out towards the running track. You'd take your rackets and an allotted amount of balls, all of which must be accounted for at the end of class. At this point you could legitimately hit the ball out of the court and then spend a large part of class 'looking for the ball'. Tennis was taught to us in a haphazard manner. I still remember the basic rules to this day - however for a long time it wasn't explained that the point of the game was to place the ball so that your opponent couldn't return it. I thought you were supposed to hit the ball to your opponent!

Like most sports where individuals compete I find tennis generally dull to watch... unless a really good rally gets going. I find I only enjoy team sports where there is an element of strategy and statistics. I think that is why I enjoy NFL, baseball, F1 and cricket... oh, and sometimes football (when my teams aren't being rubbish!).

The only sports I ever managed to play much myself (due to my appalling lack of hand-eye co-ordination) are badminton (where the shuttlecock goes a bit slower and allows you to position yourself to hit it) and bizzarely squash - although this is possibly due more to luck than any judgement. I still have my complete raquet collection in my Mum's loft - tennis, badminton and squash; although it must be a good ten years since any of them had any use!

Now that Wimbledon is all but over there is a summer of cricket, F1 and baseball to look forward to... all downhill to the football and NFL seasons then!