OK, I confess: I Don’t Like Sports

Life is short. In my opinion far too short to get excited watching hideously overpaid half-men, half-boys with the IQs of dying water buffaloes kicking balls into nets, or batting balls over a fence, or throwing balls through a hoop. In fact, I often suspect those who watch sports and get excited over something as soporific as a televised golf game may have forgotten that there are other things to do in life than watch some guy in loud checkered shorts hit a ball into a hole with an outrageously expensive stick; things a bit more exciting and interesting.

During football matches the bets are placed on the pools and while I sit in a corner of the restaurant and try to eat my cornflakes with slices of banana and huddle over my newspaper, the television has been turned up as loud as possible, and every so often some overpaid, overweight monstrous hulk manages to run to one end of the field or catch a ball or whatever and dozens of otherwise intelligent men watching this in the restaurant give out bellowing roars as if they’re all involved in some kind of bizarre orgasm.

I have been in restaurants and bars and pubs in many countries, including Hooters in the United States, in which I was the only male in the room ogling the waitresses. Every other man in the room had his eyes glued to some screen wherein some sweaty lads were attempting to kick a ball into a net at one end of the field or another.

“Sports bars?” I was brought up to believe that bars were for smoking and drinking and, in some cases, to pick up women. These days, trying to find a bar which is a non-sports bar is like trying to find a virgin on Soi Cowboy.

Don’t misunderstand me. I do think that for those who actually play in the games, sports is a good way to get one’s exercise. And anyone who has a relative or friend in a game of some sort quite naturally has a personal reason to express interest. But do you realize people from Britain to Peru have argued, fought and died in heated debates over the relative merits of strangers whom they label “their” team? Died! Fighting for what? I can’t think of a stupider way to die. In Vietnam, the GIs used to say: "It's dumb to die in 'Nam."  Well, think how much dumber it is to die in an argument over whether or not "your" team is better than "their" team.  The lads on “their” team make millions and probably will be traded to a different team next season, anyway, and most likely wouldn’t give “their” fans the time of day.

And isn’t there something wrong with a country in which its bankrupt cities can’t build decent libraries but spend fortunes on sports stadiums? And isn’t there something amiss with a society which pays someone US$8,000,000 a year to throw a ball to batters but less than US$200,000 a year to the learned, accomplished multi-lingual heads of, for example, the East Asian Studies Departments at the best universities?

I lived in Hong Kong for 17 years and every night after the news, I would watch the bit of cricket news they presented. After 17 years, I still haven’t got a clue as to what the goals are or what is happening. And bars here in Bangkok like the Office Bar – bars with loads of good-looking women – instead of sending me pictures of their women which might induce me to visit their bar they send me – you guessed it – “The Sports Schedule.”

Well, I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about Liverpool Divided vs. Chelsea United or whatever. The world is full of great novels I haven’t got to yet, great women I haven’t got to yet, and great places to see I haven’t got to yet, and I don’t want to waste one second watching sweaty masses of groping males involved in Rugby’s Gloucester v Stade Francais (whatever the fuck they are).

Yes, I know, some very intelligent men would differ with my opinions.  Woody Allen takes his Korean squeeze-now-wife to basketball games, etc., etc.  Well, I still don't want to sit and watch an entire basketball game.  It's booooring.  Someone once said he only likes sports which have real consequences for the participants; that is, that if they make a mistake it can be life-threatening.  Well, now we're getting somewhere because hypocrite that I am, I do like to watch a good Western-style boxing match.  I even trained for eight months at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn.  But I regard boxing not so much as a sport as it is a bloody art form.  Anyone can see it's bloody; and if you are as old as me and remember watching Mohammad Ali dancing around the ring in his prime, then you know it's an art form as well.

But I have to say I don't really care about any other sports that have consequences such as sky diving, mountain climbing, etc.  Because for me, in addition to the craft and guts some boxers show, it is clear that each wants to move the brain pan of the other.  Put him away.  No teams.  No cheerleaders.  No tag-offs to partners.  No phony wrestling bullshit.  Just GUTS.

A humorous aspect of all this is that guys who don't like sports are sometimes assumed to be gay.  And yet it would be easy to turn the tables and say that guys who want to watch other guys with their shirts off run around a soccer field or wrestle one another must surely be gay.  So sexual inclinations seems to have nothing to do with it.

Finally, there is the issue of bonding.  Men who meet for the first time often feel more comfortable easing into a business or social relationship with another man if they can talk about sports first.  "Hey, how 'bout that Gruyanski!  First guy with his fly open and not on steroids to hit a home run during a .112 earthquake!"  "Duh!  Yeah!"

Well, I can't remember the name of the movie but I do remember a scene where a guy walked into a store and ordered something from a male clerk.  While the clerk was getting it, he said "How bout those Bears?"

The customer said: "Fuck the Bears."

The clerk shrugged.

Now that is something I've ALWAYS wanted to do but don't have the guts.  Because I know the guy is just trying to make conversation and I don't have it in me to be impolite for no reason.  The fact that he might be one of those fanatics who shoots me dead on the spot has nothing to do with it.

Any comments?  Dean Barrett can be flamed at:

deanbarr@loxinfo.co.th

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