Let’s start with a confession: as a child, I hated sport. I never liked PE (aside from a brief spell as the ‘dodgeball king’), and I never found the thought of doing sport to be pleasurable. I grew up and started finding sports I enjoyed, but I find myself faced with snobbery if I ever mention it – it seems there’s a scale of sport, in which excelling at certain ones is considered better, whereas others don’t even count.
Sport crops up at uni early – when you arrive as an innocent young fresher, asking someone what sport they like or play is a fantastic way of getting to chat and form a friendship. Your typical answers are abundant – everybody was the star of their football team, or a top rugby player. That’s great and there’s nothing wrong with that. Then I provide my answers, normally to be met with the same dismissive response: ‘that doesn’t really count’ – and then I’m somehow in the wrong. I like the wrong things, I play the wrong sports.
suddenly sports no-one gave a toss about become the most important thing in the world
At the risk of sounding smug, I’m good at the sports I do. I frequently win on the pool table, my bowling technique normally guarantees a couple of strikes each game, and I’m a crack shot with a rifle (I can hit a bullseye from 1000m with little trouble). I’m proud of my achievements in sport, especially considering I was never a sporty person, but it doesn’t matter. If it’s not one of the big sports – one of the important ones – it doesn’t count.
As Varsity swings around, the situation will change – suddenly sports no-one gave a toss about become the most important thing in the world (I’m saying this to make a point and I mean no disrespect to the sports I use as examples). The ‘big’ sports are just another game, whereas whether we win in the futsal or ultimate frisbee becomes serious business. For a fortnight or so, the players of these diverse and interesting games are lavished with attention – it’s a wonderful kind of inverted snobbery, in which the big sports get little attention. Every university has great football players, say, but how many have top quality squash players?
it’s a wonderful kind of inverted snobbery, in which the big sports get little attention
Here’s a thought – why don’t we just respect sportspeople for their respective skills and stop implying some sports are more important than others? I get that my sports will never command the viewing figures of a Premier League football game and I’ve no issue with that. However, I practice just as hard and refine my ability as much as those guys do. When you say my sports don’t really matter, or that playing them doesn’t really count, my simple answer is that you’re quite wrong. It’s a shame it takes something like Varsity to get us to appreciate some of the smaller sports out there.