“RVP is leaving Arsenal. I fucking hate sports.”
– text message from me to a friend, 4 July 2012, 12:32 CDT
And that’s the thing: I really do hate sports. I hate baseball, football, cricket, rugby, tennis, track & field. I hate the athletes, the owners, the pundits, and the vast majority of the fans.
Sport is manipulative, the athletes have no honor, and it really just one constant disappointment after another. Disappointment in the people, in the results, and in the fans.
This all might sound like sour grapes, and it surely is. Hearing the news of Robin van Persie’s announcement was like a punch in the gut. And it made me ask myself, for just about the one millionth time: why do I do this to myself?
I remember my Aunt Cathy, who is from Cleveland, OH, USA, telling me what it was like when the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, one of the league’s oldest franchises, picked up and moved to Baltimore: she said it was a relief. I didn’t understand. I would have been gutted. But she said it made her feel a thousand times lighter. She was free. Her Sundays were hers again.
And similarly, I envy non sports fans. Ever Saturday morning, August through May, I pull myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and force myself to watch Arsenal play with the handbrake on and draw to a weaker side on their home patch. I live and and die with every touch of the ball. Meanwhile non sports fans are sleeping, or enjoying the morning paper on the front stoop.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I continue to set myself up for heartbreak and disappointment?
And the answer is: I don’t know.
But I think it is why I enjoy cricket so much. I have no real strong allegiance to any side, club or country. Even though it is a team sport, I can enjoy it like I do tennis, or the Olympics, or cycling. The game for the sake of the game.
But the disappoints still come: spot fixing and match fixing in cricket, doping everywhere else.
I don’t know, maybe it is time to give sports a rest. I have other pursuits, of course. I love to read, I love riding my bicycle, being outside, love writing about things other than cricket. I mean, the Art History post from a few days ago was a blast to write.
But I know deep in my heart that come Arsenal’s season opener, I will be back at the pub wearing my heart on my sleeve. And I know when England’s test series against South Africa kicks off, I will watch nearly every ball. And I will wake up at the crack of dawn this weekend to watch the Wimbledon semi-finals. And so on.
Because that’s the thing: I love sports: