... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

549: Be a Sport

Rules of sport. Once they were made up, now they are dogma. Discuss.

Once I was a boy, at school, in shorts and shin pads, covered in mud. Running about the place. A little bit. Kicking, throwing or hitting a ball with a stick. Just once, I think. It was utterly tedious, and eventually I discovered it was easily avoided with an obvious excuse poorly forged onto a scrap of paper. "Kevin can't do P.E. today because yesterday a bee landed on his hand and it upset him." "Kevin can't do P.E. today because his gout is playing up." "Kevin can't do P.E. today because it's 1996 and we are still using dial-up modems to access the internet." "Kevin can't do P.E. today because he is shit at it and finds it unpleasant and embarrassing." All of those are not genuine excuses and you can have them, feel free.

So, we were encouraged to take part in organised physical competition in games, the rules of which had long been codified by 19th Century public school masters. And now because some toff decided that an oval ball can only be thrown backwards with a sort-of baffling twisted arm, I get a whistle blown at me every time I think I am throwing it like that, but apparently am not. So what I don't understand is why sport seems to have become stuck in the past. In that sense (and many others, e.g. the disgusting fanaticism it inspires) sport is like religion. It has selected an arbitrary date long ago and stayed there.

Science, for example, moves on continually, getting quicker and quicker, bigger and better. Sport has stopped. All the rules were made up and then just left to fester. Where are the new sports? Why do schools insist on forcing kids (me, fifteen years ago) to take part in sports, the rules or structure of which they have no say over? When studying science the eventual aim is to make a contribution, as discovery; to advance the field. When playing those silly sport games there is no eventual aim; all achievements are re-set the moment the final whistle blows.

A science student can, and should, ask why why why constantly, and receive enlightening answers in return. A sport student, stood in goal during a football match cannot ask why he or she may not pick up the ball if passed to them from a team-mate's foot. The only answer would be "because that's the rules". This is the same enemy of reason that gave us "because I said so," and "god did it".

But maybe sport has finished. All of the sports have already been discovered and there is no more work to be done. Just endlessly repeat the same steps again and again. If that's the case maybe we can move on leaving sport as a relic of the past. If that's not the case, maybe it's time we moved on to some new, as yet un-invented, sports.

Just a thought.

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