I think we need a bit of perspective here.  I am not going to just rag on the British, that would be unfair and inaccurate as this is a global phenomenon.  But does anything arouse nationalistic tendencies in usually mild mannered people more than sport?  Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about already hyper-patriotic souls who have their national flag tattooed upon their chests over their hearts for whom anything can arouse nationalistic fervour, even breakfast cereal.  You know what I mean: Greeks who can’t sleep at night knowing that the Parthenon Marbles are in London, or Brits who can’t bear the thought of a foreign England football manager.  I am not referring to them.  I am referring to ‘regular’ people.  People who only remember they are British when there is some sort of sporting event going on.  In other words, last week – most of Britain. 

OK, I know I am probably going to be unpopular with this statement, but come on.  He won Wimbledon, he didn’t cure cancer or save a baby.  I am as pleased for him as  the next person, but Andy Murray didn’t win Wimbledon for Britain, or for Scotland (thanks Mr Salmond) or even  for Dunblane.  He won it for himself.  He put in the hours (and boy did he) and he reaped the rewards.  Should we be impressed?  Most definitely, considering the player he was when he started out, and the player he has become due to sheer determination and hard work, it is impressive.  .  Should we be proud?  Yes, certainly.  If we were his Mother.

I cheered him on, and I was thrilled for him when he won, but my enjoyment of his victory was hindered by the comments about ‘making history’ and ‘ending the hurt and waiting’.  They were even calling for a knighthood before he had picked up the trophy.  Also, is not having a male Wimbledon champion really what has been keeping us awake and hurting for 77 years?  I had no idea.  (Let’s not focus on the fact the Virginia Wade – a British woman – won the Wimbledon title in 1977.  So considerably less than 77 years since we had a British champion then.)

I don’t want you to think that I am indifferent to sports.  I am certainly not.  I am a mad Arsenal fan (and we all know how disheartening that can be) and I am prepared to watch almost any sport as long as there are no horses or golf clubs involved.  Even British dressage medals at the Olympics last year were not enough for me to stop laughing at the sport that should be called prancing, and seriously?  Golf?  Why don’t they just point a camera at the sky and go for lunch.  I am sure playing golf is a wonderful thing, but I just don’t want to watch it.  If I want to watch cloud formations, I would rather do it without the annoying golf balls getting in the way.  I love watching sport in fact.  During the Olympics, I think that there wasn’t one sport I didn’t catch as I was at home the entire time with my Mum who was recovering from an operation.  We watched archery, table tennis, wrestling, swimming, whatever there was on really.  It was at once hugely entertaining, and heart-breaking when you realise that all of the athletes have been preparing at great personal cost for at least four years, and there can only be one winner. And yes, during the Olympics, the athletes are competing for their countries.  So flag waving is appropriate and patriotism runs high.

But what is it about sport that brings out the crazy in people?  I read an article the other day about  a referee in Brazil who knifed a player who  hit him and questioned a decision.  I don’t condone hitting referees or other players, but getting stabbed for it seems a bit extreme.  Then, because the man died from the stabbing on the way to the hospital, according to reports, the referee was tied up, beaten, stoned and quartered by spectators who had witnessed the incident. They then put his head on a stake and planted it in the middle of the pitch.  And all because of a row on a football pitch.  During an amateur game of footy.  Game.  The word here is significant.  It is a game of football.  The word game implies pleasant diversion. Heads on a stake imply- well the opposite.

I already know how I feel about extremists in any situation be it political or other.  In sport however, it feels a just little more ridiculous than in other fields.  I guess in the sporting realm, I would appreciate the folks who put the ‘fun’ into fundamentalism, rather than the crazies who provide the ‘mental’ in it.

So well done Andy, I salute you.  But I am not about to wear a sporran, drape myself in a Union Jack or St Andrew flag, wear a T-shirt with one letter of your name on it which means I have to stand next to the same friends all day or start humming God Save the Queen during tennis matches.  Rather I will pick a player, and enjoy watching grown men grunt, moan and fist pump over fuzzy balls.  It sounds kind of dirty when you put it like that, doesn’t it?

Advertisements