Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Couch Potato

Ball games never took off until real balls were invented. Rocks, while durable, had the annoying tendency to shatter fingers and toes, which is no joke when the nearest orthopedic surgeon is off playing golf, several centuries into the future. Rocks were also a pain to retrieve when they flew over the wall into the neighbour’s garden, especially since the neighbour was likely to be armed and not above a bit of killing for sport.

If you are a red-blooded male reading this, you’re probably rubbing your hands in expectation of a treatise on sports, and how they add value to life. Sorry. Prepare to be disappointed. In my opinion, the only things to which value is added by sports are couches. Who possesses a TV with a dedicated sports channel but doesn’t own a couch? You try sitting on a beanbag (or the floor) and watching The Game this weekend- you’ll soon find out what I’m talking about.

South Africa is sports-mad. I’m not generalizing. Sport infiltrates the psyche of the average South African to the point that they assume it has at least third place on the pyramid of Things That Are Important In Life, after eating and sleeping. I suspect that even that may be untrue for some. It’s rugby, soccer, cricket. The whole weekend, and weeknights too. Which would be great if we were all playing those sports- we’d be the fittest nation on earth- but we aren’t.

There’s a certain age when it becomes tricky to play team sports- when the team members start to have partners who don’t want them practicing and playing matches all the time, or their jobs and children absorb any extra moments they may have. Mostly sporting activities are limited to golf/cycling/running/gym.

None of those activities grab me. Nor does watching tiny people playing ball games on TV. Formula 1 is included in that.

It’s a lonely life: It makes it very hard to bond with other men around the braai/barbecue when the only thing you can add to the conversation is about an amusing herb you’ve found that does wonders to marinades.

But I don’t mind being friendless… These guys who live vicariously through team sports on TV, they don’t know the truth about me. I have the proof that I was once a gifted athlete. (See picture above). I was ten, it was 1981, and this was the inter-county Cub Scout sports day in the area of the UK where I used to live. That’s me, surging over the line. I don’t know if the photographer won a sports photography award for brilliantly capturing the tension, the exhaustion, the anticipation in my face, but he/she should have. Look how far behind me the other guy is. Looooooser!

I was active once, and young…


  1. No worries my good man, you're not alone.

  2. @Bronson: Cheers! Pass the virtual basting brush!

  3. Oh, Scott, too bad you arent around here; my hubby is not into sports at all,either.

    And, conversely, I would love to find another mom friend around here who would be up for an occasional night out to a little dive bar/club to see some band or dj set of music from back-in-the-day. I either go out to fun things alone or just not go at all.

  4. Suprisingly I am finding more and more men who arent really that sport mad (granted I do know how to pick the odd balls)

    WELL DONE on your sack race - is indeed an acheivement!

  5. Impressive for a 10 year old, eh?
    I watch F1, Glugs loves his rugby (and thankfully their schedules don't clash), and we take dancing lessons!

  6. @Laura: L, oddballs should be one word. Just saying. :-) And thatnks for the congratulations- I feel better for it...
    @angel: Dancing is ok, unless you have to wear boots with studs, and eat oranges at half-time.

  7. Whahaha what a CUTE pic - u look like James. A weeee bit nerdy tho. Am kinda relating - as I am not at all sporty nor do I like watching sports... then again I am a wimmin (hear me whine!)

  8. @Divinebee: What? A cub scout racing inside a sack? What's nerdy about that?

  9. Wait.

    Is that not a rugby shirt you're wearing beneath that sack?!

    That is an impressive photo in so many respects. Firstly, just look at the length of that race. If this were an olympic event, you would be way too big for us lowly bloggers.


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