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Home > Culture and Society

Rugby, bloody rugby


30 November 2003

"This was a fantastic day for English rugby and for England. The whole country can be proud."

- Tony Blair, this week

A student who crashed a BMW he took from a car dealership as part of an initiation into a rugby club has been banned from driving for a year.

- BBC news, this week

Fuck sport. I'm sick of it. Here's why:

1) The idea that sporting success should be a source of national pride.

Exactly how the activities of a handful of professional sportsmen and women makes Britain a better place remains unclear. Maybe winning a gold medal at rowing cheers up our overworked nurses when they're busy cleaning up sick in a grimy, underfunded NHS ward at 4am.

2) The political sports liggers

Tony Blair, obviously, but also the distinctly creepy Michael Howard, who said: 'The pride sends shivers down your spine.' Oh piss off. It's hard to recall a more transparently insincere attempt by a politician to be a 'man of the people' since Blair emerged from Downing Street with his mug of tea and 'regular guy'

3) The emotional hysteria.

Shocking news for sports fans: the fortunes of England in rugby, football or any other sport are not moments of emotional overload on a par with being the sole survivor of a plane crash. When you see sports fans whooping and screaming as though they’d just been given a billion pounds, and all because a bunch of total strangers have just equalised against PSV Eindhoven, you have to wonder how skewed the rest of their emotional responses are, eg.:

'Steve, I got us a KFC for tea.'
'But they didn't have any coleslaw.'

4) The sheer predictability of England’s performance at sport.

In most major sports, England has a proven track record of being slightly above average (football in particular) interspersed with the occasional glittering success and the slightly-more-frequent humiliating defeat. Is this trend likely to be bucked in the near future? No. Are we probably going to be knocked out of the next world cup at the quarter finals? Yes. Should we kill ourselves as a result? If it's the only means of ending '30 years of hurt', do it. Please.

5) The way that sport is basically trainspotting.

Sport fulfils various functions, but one of the lesser known is that it is an opportunity for boring people to talk about something that's actually as anal as trainspotting or coin collecting without being considered a nerd or a bore. It's also a chance for thick people to 'own' a topic about which they can talk with confidence. You may have failed every exam you ever sat, but if Oxford did degrees in the merits of the 4-4-2 formation, you’d have a First.

While at the other end of the educational spectrum is bilge like this:

'Will England’s rugby heroes send stock prices rocketing this morning, marking the end of a three-year bear market?' (The Guardian, page 2.)

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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