(and you can never take this away from me me!)
I’m not very good at sports, but I like them a lot and am a fan of getting involved in things, rather than watch other people do them; the result of all this is that I do, and have tried to do, a variety of sports, with some enjoyment, and very little success, for the last eighteen years. And, just to break up the formatting of this blog, ‘m going to explain this sad history to you in a bullet-pointed list. Oh yeah.
– Football: My favourite sport, to watch and to play, has been my most tried; I played for about five different teams between the ages of 9 and 13, playing as a striker for one glorious season and scoring eight goals in ten games, but was cut from every side I played for. I spent five years at a Saturday morning show-up-and-play type thing that was great fun, and I made some awesome friends there, but eventually folded the week after I received my five-year award due to lack of funding. Then I played at a different, Tuesday evenings, show-up-and-play thing for four years, but then university got in the way so I had to stop. And my school didn’t have a team I could try out for, and the UCL team I did have a go at getting into rejected me because I can’t play eleven-a-side for shit. So now I play five-a-side at Powerleague every other weekend with some old school mates, which is uncompetitive but actually rather fun.
– Rugby: Another very fun sport to play; I did get a chance to play this at school, because it was compulsory, and captained my house B team to an impressive record of 5th, 6th, and 5th across three years of annual inter-house competitions (there were six houses but shut up). One year, I scored an awesome try from scrum half, passing it left from a right-wing maul and running behind the line to the left wing as the team advanced, so I could be the extra man over on the left wing to outnumber the defenders and score in the corner; and in another I kicked all the conversions and penalties, and ended up the team’s top scorer. But really this was very low-level stuff, and as the game became no longer compulsory as I moved up the school, I stopped playing it. And then I didn’t get to the UCL rugby trials because I was busy on both trial days, but I’m 99% sure I’d not have got a place anywho.
– Cycling: I’m a big fan of road cycling (the Tour De France etc) but my attempts to actually ride a bike have been stifled by my poorness, my reluctance to learn how to ride on the road which consigned me to riding laps of the same park for three years, and the healing of my knees after Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome which meant I could now run, which is so much less hassle than cycling.
– Running: Having said I could do running medically, I couldn’t motivate myself to do it regularly; my insistence on timing every run I did, and measuring my progress mathematically to the nth degree, meant I’d have a lot of days where I’d deem today’s run to be a ‘failure’ because I only beat yesterday’s time by ten seconds or, even worse, I was slower than yesterday. That, and the fact that I never found a running buddy and was so focused on measuring my progress that I ran the same, boring 5K course for a year, meant I kinda grew to hate it.
– Swimming: Although I never got to compete in swimming, I did enjoy it greatly, but was always stuck in the designated ‘crap’ group whenever we did it in PE, so I’d be flailing widths with a float while the rest of the class streaked gracefully through the water like dolphins on the other side of the pool; I’ve not been swimming in ears, as I’ve apparently suffered mental scarring.
– Tennis: Spent three years at a club getting really rather good, then stopped as I moved to secondary school and had no time; I deeply regret this, as my mate from primary school found time to stay at the club, and was a paid coach there by the time he was like 17. And oh how I wish I had taken a job when I was still at school to earn some frakking money.
– Karate, Dodgeball, and Handball: These are the three latest additions to the great list of Things I Approach With Great Enthusiasm But Little Actual Ability (a list of which ‘sports’ is only a minot category), and three things I’ve spent about five weeks doing here at UCL. I greatly enjoy all of them – Karate is like a gym workout with none of the mechanical repetition or steroid-pumped push-upers glaring at your lack of a six-pack; Dodgeball is as fun as it sounds, with enough strategy and technique involved, and beginners-welcoming tournaments, to make it a real sport rather than something for unfit kids to do in PE lessons while the others do actual activities; and Handball is just as fun, and deceptively tiring, as it looks, and is played by the sort of people who, at leat so far, are serious enough about their sports to make the matches intense, but aren’t the meat-headed dicks who probably like Return of Kings, and defended Sam Pepper, and played for the LSE Men’s Rugby team.
For instance, today I played my first match for UCL, in the men’s handball second team, as we valiantly lost 33-17 to Imperial College London, but both sides all went for a drink and a meal in a Mexican restaurant afterwards, which was unexpected but totally awesome. And it was that game – in which I played at Pivot, a position which seems to require as much upper body-strength as I’m prepared to use, but about 452% more upper-body strength than I actually have – that made me think of my past endeavours in various sporting arenas, and how they’ve tended to suck. But now university, with its beginners’ teams and first-timers tournaments, makes sports actually easy to get into, and even welcoming, as opposed to being some great closed circle of super-athletes and Nike tracksuit-wearing hardliners; sport has always been fun for me, regardless of what it’s been or who I’ve done it with, but now ‘sport’ is about liking the people you’re underthrowing a pass to, rather than just missing another throw to another target.
So here’s to sucking, but sucking with people who are acceptive of it!
(unless, of course, I manage to single-handedly lose a game or match for each of those UCL sports teams next week, in which case I’ll go for Parkour, Karting, and five-a-side Football next term!)