Tuesday, 28 February 2012

My sporting allegiances

As a sports blogger I think it’s only fair that I share my sporting allegiances with my readers. I’d like to think that I’m impartial in my sporting analysis, but I’ve no doubt I will be accused of bias at times. Anyway, here are where my allegiances lie in football, AFL & tennis.



Football

Norwich City are my hometown team, although from an early age I followed Nottingham Forest, so I count both of them as my teams. I’m not a particularly dedicated fan of either team, but have stuck with them through numerous relegations and promotions and will continue to do so.

Out of the bigger teams in the Premiership I have a slight preference for Manchester United, having lived in the city during my university years and worked at Old Trafford on match days. I’ve had a (possibly irrational) hatred of Arsenal for longer than I care to remember, and am not embarrassed to admit that their defeats give me a perverse pleasure.

AFL

Since being introduced to the AFL in 2006 I’ve been a St Kilda fan, and consider them a not insignificant part of my life. I attend every match they play in Melbourne, regularly go to club functions, and have also been to interstate matches.

Collingwood were my least favourite team before arriving in Australia, and after experiencing the ‘Magpie Army’ first hand on numerous occasions my hatred for them has only increased.

Tennis

Andy Murray’s shot making and dry sense of humour have warmed me to him over the years, after initially only supporting him in hope that he’d break Britain’s long wait for a male Grand Slam champion. I love Rafael Nadal’s never-say-die attitude and the fact that he plays every point as if it’s his last. I also like the fact that he’s ever humble in both victory & defeat and will always give credit to his opponents when they outplay him.

Despite the brilliance of his shot-making & all-round play, there’s an air of arrogance about Federer which has made me never able to warm to him. As for Djokovic, I can appreciate his sustained excellence, but his play rarely excites me.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Why I love (watching) sport

I love sport. I have other passions in life - I'm a big fan of music & film - but sport provides me something nothing else can. I understand why not everyone shares my passion; I've even had to listen to people say "what's the point of sport?" So to kick things off I thought I'd explain what makes sport so brilliant and why I couldn't live without it.


The drama

We all love a bit of drama in our lives; it’s why theatre has remained popular throughout the centuries and why thousands of people still flock to the cinemas every weekend. Sport provides some of the most compelling drama I’ve ever witnessed. There are moments in sporting history that remain so unbelievable they’ll live with me forever: Usain Bolt smashing the 100 m world record at the Beijing Olympics, Manchester United scoring twice in injury time to beat Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final, or Cathy Freeman winning the 400 m at the Sydney Olympics to name but a few.

The social aspect

An afternoon or evening out watching a sporting event with friends is a real pleasure. It’s a shared experience; we’re all going through the same emotions and feelings when we’re supporting our team. It may be my reserved British nature, but watching live sport is the only time when I shout encouragement until I literally lose my voice, jump up and down in celebration, or feel compelled to hug a complete stranger knowing they’re feeling exactly the same thing I do.

The human aspect

At the end of the day, professional sport is played by humans. Different humans react to different situations in different ways, which adds an extra dimension to sport, particularly when people are put outside their comfort zone. This is probably most evident in individual sports, such as tennis or boxing, where the mental part of the game is often more important than the physical or technical part of the game. 

Some people seem to rise to another level when challenged, as in the 2012 Australian Open men’s final where Djokovic refused to be beaten in the 5th set, whereas others crumble, such as Jean Van De Velde on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in the 1999 British Open. Psychological aspects can also affect coaches as well as players - see Kevin Keegan imploding on camera during the run-in of the 1996 Premier League season.

The unpredictability

If sport was played out on paper and the results always went as expected hardly anyone would watch it. It seems such an obvious thing to say, but the unpredictable nature is crucial to sports. There aren’t always happy endings, and things don’t always go to plan, which makes success, when it comes, even more worthwhile. Upsets in sports can provide truly memorable moments, such as James “Buster’ Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson in 1990, or France’s thrilling comeback against New Zealand in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final.

Sport always has a capacity to surprise – last minute goals happen on a weekly basis in football, and some sportspeople just don’t know when they’re beaten. That’s what makes the fans stick with sport until the final whistle is blown.Imagine how a Manchester City fan would’ve felt if they’d left their F.A. Cup tie with Tottenham at half-time in 2004 when 3-0 down and down to 10-men? A comeback was beyond unlikely, but in the world of sport nothing is impossible, and the final result was Tottenham 3 Manchester City 4.


That’s just a few of the reasons why I love watching sport – I’m sure I’ll touch upon many more in future posts. How about you? Why do you love sport?