Friday, 21 August, 2009

Why do we love sport?

Yesterday, I sat on a red plastic chair under a row of trees next to the tennis court at Loyola college and watched an inter-collegiate doubles final. On the far side of the court, the hockey team practiced on the hockey ground, to one side of which rose the steeple of Loyola church.
Against this backdrop, the quality of tennis wasn't great. Talent flickered intermittently, a crosscourt return winner here, a wristy half-volley there. Mostly though, the match was strewn with errors. Volleys failed to clear the tape, returns sailed beyond the baseline, one serve hit the perimeter fencing on the full.
For all that, this was a contest, and the players were deadly serious. One disputed line call took, or seemed to take, ten minutes to resolve, and the players plodded earnestly through excruciatingly drawn-out games full of misplaced first serves. Every game seemed to reach deuce. At one point in the second set, even the chirping of birds in the branches above grew restless.
When the third set began, everyone who had so far watched idly, chatting, sensed this heightened intensity and grew silent. The hockey players gathered at the far side of the court, leaving the playing of one sport behind to witness another.
This was much like periods in so much of the tennis-ball cricket I've played, on the streets, in backyards, on baking afternoons in dusty playgrounds, periods where nothing matters but bat and ball, runs and wickets. Charged particles fill the air - you don't necessarily have to pad up in an Ashes Test, or stand amidst the thousands holding up scarves or setting off flares in a Champions League final to feel them.

11 comments:

Tashi said...

Sadly, the MCC has never had a big non playing audience. dysauxab

Ghanshyam Nair said...

Indeed. But I don't think that's particularly sad. When too many people turn up, a lot of them sit around and get awfully distracted, and start talking about non-cricket stuff. And that ruins the atmosphere. Which is why the two-on-two matches are usually the most intense. The epics tend to come in three-on-three, strangely.
What the hell is dysauxab?

Tashi said...

Yesh. That was the stupid word I had to type to post my comment. I fail to see the need for word verification once I've signed in to post. noutape

Tashi said...

lailesti

Tashi said...

fricidi

Tashi said...

ingionsi

Tashi said...

This is fun. scultr

Tashi said...

sneverein

Ghanshyam Nair said...

I, on the other hand, do not have to type in any word verification thingy - don't know if it's a good or bad thing.

Brit said...

Very true. The quality of the play, and its value as a spectacle, have little bearing on how seriously the players take sport.

For example, see amateur sunday league football, or indeed, any form of rugby union.

Porush said...

nice article