Sporty sport sport

The World Cup is over. Wimbledon is over. Someone is quite happy about this.

I am not.

I bloody love watching sport, me.

I usually put this down to my Dad being a P.E. teacher and I always enjoyed learning about various sports when they were on TV (usually the Olympics). Equally my Mum loved the cricket (back in the Beefy Botham days) and gold, mostly because they are both sports you don’t have to pay attention to so she could watch them whilst knitting.

It’s the learning I enjoy and as sports broadcasting improves, so does the level of information available.

Many years ago, Channel 4 had the rights to a season of the NFL. I’d never really watched it before and in the opening couple of shows they explained how the game works; what is a first down? what does 3 and 18 mean? And so on. And the more you learn the more you appreciate why the game works the way it does, how skilled the players are and how hard it is to achieve success.

Thankfully Le Tour is still on the go (rest day today mind you) and, again, the ITV coverage continues to be superb. David Millar offers insights as a previous Tour rider, explaining what is going on when it’s not always evident; the tactics, the team hierarchy, the psychology, the mental and physical fatigue and everything else that goes with it. It becomes utterly engrossing (watching an entire team in a sprint stage, leading out their main sprinter is a wonder of power and precision which usually comes at the end of 100+km of cycling).

More recently I’ve gotten into UFC. I’m not a big boxing fan but the mixed-martial arts approach of the UFC is intriguing. It’s not, for me, about watching someone beaten to a pulp, but the expertise, the speed and precision that some of the fighters have. A split second takes you from standing to the ground, a few seconds later you are ‘tapping out’ as your opponent has you in an arm bar. Again, hearing the co-commentators/pundits explain what is happening, whether it’s grappling or striking based, helps me understand the intricacies of timing and technique. UFC is not just two idiots beating the shit out of each other, honest.

But it’s basketball where my heart lies. Largely because I was above average at it at school, and because of a VHS tape my cousin gave me which featured a man called Magic who played with a smile on his face and made the game seem fun. I was barely into my teens and looking back now at what he achieved and how he played the game, now that I know a lot more about the basics, it’s all the more remarkable. Unfortunately a guy called Michael Jordan turned up and the Lakers fell away, then Shaq and Kobe did their thing for a few years and all was good. And now the current ‘greatest player’ has joined so I’m stupid excited for the next few years as a Lakers fan.

I don’t play any sport these days (stupid knees) and it’s something I’m trying to figure out a way to get back into. Ideally basketball, but I’m not sure where I’d find a team of middle-aged, not very fit, average-and-below level players who’d invite me along… I’m still looking though!

I do love me some sport.

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