Ken and Dot’s most boring sports

Dot writes: last night Ken insisted on watching the football. Not rugby, which we both like, but soccer: Ireland versus Estonia. It was an important match in which Ireland qualified for the Euro 2012 tournament. They did this by means of a 1-1 draw. This counts as exciting in soccer.

I think you can tell how dull soccer is by all the creative expedients the fans come up with to find something to do other than watch the game. They used to go in for violence, but that’s frowned on these days, so instead they practice face-painting, rudimentary ensemble dancing in the form of Mexican waves, and communal singing. But soccer isn’t the only sport to garner exponentially more money and attention than it merits. Ken and I (for Ken doesn’t especially like soccer, even though he mysteriously felt compelled to watch it) came up with a list.

1. Golf. I can see why this might be fun to play. You get to go for a pleasant walk with a friend or two, enlivened by a somewhat pointless test of skill. But why on earth would anyone want to watch? Or pay you money to do it? What is the attraction of watching people in slightly preppy clothes stroll around and periodically make balls go plop into a hole? It’s just dull.

2. Formula one motor racing. This is positively objectionable. Watching formula one is like volunteering to sit in a swarm of flies. BZZZZzzzzzzz…. BZZZZZZzzzzzzzz…. It gets more stimulating when there’s a horrible fatal crash, but not in a good way.

3. Horse racing. Show-jumping has interest and variety, but who cares whether one pretty much identical horse or another can push to the front of a crowd while carrying a very short man on its back? The names are interesting, and so are the hats, but you could have those at a Christening party. Dull, dull, dull.

4. Tennis. It goes on far too long, it depressingly equates ‘love’ with ‘nothing’, and no-one from my country ever wins. It’s dull.

5. Basketball. Basketball is fast-moving and it might be quite fun, if only they set height-restrictions on the players. What’s so thrilling about putting a ball through a hoop if you can pretty much just reach out an arm and drop it in? Midget basketball: now that would be worth watching. They could do human pyramids and stuff. Please note that Ken and Dot will claim intellectual property rights for this idea.

6. American football. I’m sorry, but this has to be the worst of the lot. Four seconds of playing, with the players dressed in what look like amateur-dramatics robot costumes, and then five hours of ad breaks. And the worst thing about it is that it’s a corrupted version of a rather good game, with lots of different set pieces and interesting little rules and the very helpful practice of playing advantage (which reduces the stop-starting), and that’s rugby.

Hockey is alright, kind of. Shinty is better (because they get to wave the sticks about more irresponsibly, and because of its pleasing obscurity). Highland games are fabulous. There should be much less footy on the TV and many more barrel-chested men tossing sheaves of straw over a bar. Now, that would have an interesting effect on the obesity crisis.


7 thoughts on “Ken and Dot’s most boring sports

  1. I’m with you on motor racing, of course, but there is something to be said for pointless sports. I would confess that, on the occasions when I’ve watched it, I find myself to have an irrational fascination with professional darts. This is so despite the fact that it is clearly true that a brilliant darts player looks exactly the same, when throwing his darts, as a terrible one. It remains strangely exhilarating to watch something being done brilliantly, even if the thing that’s being done isn’t especially worth doing.

  2. Chris–Agreed on the loveliness of darts: but isn’t this a “game” rather than a “sport,” though?
    I like to think of “game” as the superior category: more thoughtful and thought-provoking; perhaps with more skill, and athleticism being optional rather than required; part of a way of life; with an attached culture (this may–indeed should–include associated activities and rituals fore and aft, such as The Pub).
    The categories aren’t mutually exclusive. Some sports can be games, too, if they behave themselves.

  3. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    Far, far better than shinty – and I was once assured of this by a shinty coach – is hurling.
    Flat racing is pretty dull, but point to point is a different thing entirely.
    American football is very interesting if Notre Dame be playing. Otherwise it is a dead bore.
    Cricket is wonderful – it is like baseball only better, and has nearly as many statistics. You can iron to it and piece quilts to it and mend socks to it. the commentators tend to use correct grammar and have extensive vocabularies.
    For sheer inane fun in playing, I recommend curling or trying to kill yourself on a two person toboggan.
    I admit to having always longed to be taught how to throw a javelin.

  4. Dot

    @Katimum: cricket just seemed like too easy a target! I confess to finding it unenthralling in itself, but at the same time I associate it with good things like summer and picnics and feeling a bit sleepy, and I knew you liked it.
    @Chris and Juliet: I can’t say I share your strange fascination with darts, but I like the distinction between a game and a sport. However, under your definition soccer is a game, at least insofar as it has a culture attached to it and is part of a way of life. The cultural part means much to many; it is the stuff that goes on on the pitch that’s so appallingly dull. (But I also hate the overinflated salaries and the hair. And the astonishingly inarticulate press conferences. And everything, really.)
    @Helen: I left gaelic games out because I don’t know much about them, but they definitely appeal. I approve of the complicated scoring system in gaelic football, for example. And I like the fact that the hurley, in addition to doubling as a rifle, so I have heard, looks as though it would also be useful for stirring a giant pan of scrambled eggs.

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