Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wave Your Flag - At Home

One of my most memorable afternoons of primary school happened during France '98, where as a school we were marched out of our classes and taken to the gym hall, where we were allowed to watch the England v Tunisia game on the biggest TV the school had. I seem to remember we won 2-0, and despite my first taste of rebellion (myself and a friend were cheering for Tunisia for no reason other than to be awkward) I did get filled with a warm and fuzzy feeling of togetherness that only sport and seeing Daft Punk live seems to evoke.

The World Cup is an important event for millions of people, bringing people together in drunken, singing harmony. For those who don't enjoy football, there is still a tangible air of excitement whenever a big game is on the horizon, whether you like tiny England car flags or not.

Does this mean that people should be given time off to watch their team participate? I was notified by Paul Daniels (yes that Paul Daniels) on Twitter that some schools were closing to enable children to watch the game. Sharing his anger at the decision, he quotes: "Good morning world. Just heard on radio some schools are closing 'so the children can watch England'. Disgusting. Another skyve [sic] for teachers". While it may only be half the afternoon the kids miss, I share his dismissal. There are many stale arguments thrown up year after year about football being "only a game" and "just some men running about with a ball", but this isn't why I'm a bit resentful of it being the cause of schools to be shut. Yes, it is unfair of the teachers to close schools simply because they want to go down the pub to watch England suck at trying to win, but what I find more unfair is that other sports aren't given half the attention that football is.

 [PIC COURTESY OF BBC ONLINE - despite the hilarious modifications of this picture all over the Internet, the original is still the best]

Tennis is going through a crisis at the moment, and last night Britain's sole competitor in Wimbledon Andy Murray said that although he had little sympathy for the Brits who flopped out of the tournament early, young people need more support to train in tennis, and that throwing money at young hopefuls was not the way to encourage new seeds to rise out of the amateur ranks.  How can children become passionate about a sport that isn't taught consistently in PE lessons? It seems hugely unfair that there still seems a monetary barrier surrounding tennis, despite the fact that this is no longer the case. The word just isn't getting out there - Britain needs more world-class tennis players. So where is the incentive? Given the choice, would parents be more proud of their kids fir being a football star, or a tennis top seed? There's still a snobbery issue surrounding lawn tennis, and this really shouldn't be the case. Make it more accessible in schools, teach young people how to understand its scoring system and encourage them to watch Wimbledon. Are schools shutting early to watch Murray compete in the Grand Slam? Are they buggery. If the idea of shutting early to watch sports was fairly distributed perhaps I wouldn't hate it so much, but while football is given special privileges simply because it comes with a culture of drinking and having fun and smashing stuff up, I'd rather not be involved. I don't hate sport - I'm an avid Winter Olympics fan, I used to go to swimming training to be in the Olympic team, and I love track and field. This is somewhat of an outsider opinion until the Olympics come round again. 

I've said it once and I'll say it again - FOOTBALL ISN'T THE ONLY SPORT!


chestymorgan said...

CUP SCHMUP.Enthusiasm is always heartening to behold but I do tend to plan my life around doing things when most other folk are watching the matches.

Football fandom to me seems to be largely synonymous with disappointment.I cant remember exactly where,but I think in his book 45 Bill Drummond has some pertinent words on the matter

Anonymous said...

When at school we occasionaly had a PE teacher cover for REAL teachers, on such occasions he usually put the tv on (most classrooms had one) to watch the cricket. It was great.

But I agree with you, the main thing about football is all you need is some grass some people and a ball, its cheap for PE departments. At secondary school we only got to play tennis once (unfortunately, because I was quite good) because they couldnt afford new nets/rackets/balls.

Jo said...

It isn't just in schools either. Yesterday afternoon, my office was completely empty. There had been a mass-exodus to the nearest pub with a TV so that everyone could watch the game. Everyone except me of course, because a) I'm one of those terrible people who doesn't like football and b) I had shit loads of work to do by 4.30pm.

I couldn't help but feel a little bitter about it all. I was exempt from the hour off work for not sharing the same interest as everyone else. And of course, you have to bite your tongue when it comes to things like this for fear of being dubbed a 'sour-faced girl who doesn't like football'. But why pretend to like something just for the sake of fitting in?

You're right. Why does football get special privileges? No one got time off school or work to watch the kibosh outcome of the election.

There's only one thing for it, I'm going to leave work early so that I can come home to watch something I feel really passionate about. That's right - the Come Dine With Me omnibus..

Except, that's usually on, on Sundays. When I'm not at work. Dammit.

Katie said...

So it has been decided then. Compulsary afternoons off for Come Dine With Me omnibuses, more pressure on schools to spend money on real sports equipment rather then yet MORE quoits and tiny traffic cones, and punishments in the way of NO BONUSES for bosses who let their office staff go home early to watch football if it means leaving other people swamped with work.

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