I’m something of a sports fan. Something is about as descriptive a term as I can come up with.
I like sports. Well, I like watching sports. Taking part is another thing altogether. That leaves you hot and sweaty and in pain in several areas of your body where you didn’t protect yourself adequately. I get enough of that from bi-weekly tramp-raping as it is, thank you very much.
I don’t like all sports or sporting events, though. This is because I’m a discerning sports fan. I like sports that make sense and produce excitement or admiration for the exposure of sporting prowess. It may be a bit of a stretch for me to label those that fall outside my personal realm of worthy sports as the "world’s worst sports events" but I’m nothing if not full of my own importance.
Basketball is a sport that appeals to – and actively discriminates against those of us who are not – freaks of nature: failed high-jumpers; the offspring of medieval torture-rack victims; aberrations in the eyes of God; stunt doubles for that head alien at the end of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Pick An Edition, Any Edition. Basically, people who shop at Tall And Gangly are drawn to Basketball.
The rules of the sporting event, as I have determined them, are:
- Team A scores
- Team B scores
- Repeat until owners of building throw everyone out
The excitement in basketball only comes when you’re really tired, lost track of the score somewhere around 480-478, are barely able to keep your eyes open, and your brain tranposes the figures of galumphing, inelegant mutants on the court in front of you with giraffes. Suddenly you’re in the heart of Africa and the animals are bouncing balls with their long beaks (I don’t know much about giraffes to be honest) and the sport has taken on a whole new, thrilling meaning! It means… you’re losing it big time!
Quite frankly, there are quicker, less tedious ways to experience hallucinatory highs.
One of the reasons I’ve heard cited for why the sport known as football to the vast majority of the world or the sport known as cricket to everyone in the world have never really taken off and become super-popular in America is that these sports lack the high-scoring and high levels of thrillomatic thrillgasms present in really thrilling sports like basketball (which we now know has none). And, apparently, that’s a precondition to something being enjoyed by Her Majesty’s Canada’s neighbours.
Yet, perversely, Americans (and, yes, other weirdos around the world too (I’m looking at you Japan, you tentacled-girl-loving nutters)) like baseball.
The rules of baseball, as I have determined them, are:
- Team A throws the ball at a man from Team B for an indiscriminate number of times, some of which miss him and that’s good, some of which miss him and that’s bad, and some of which miss him and it’s impossible to tell whether it’s good or bad
- Either the man from Team B walks around the baseball diamond or he goes back to his team, the determination for this apparently at random
- This happens to a few more people from Team B, maybe two more, maybe more than that
- The two teams swap over the roles of throwing and being thrown at eighteen times
- After eight hours somebody is declared a 1-0 winner
Meanwhile, in the stands, a crowd sits and eats. They also drink but it’s American beer so that doesn’t count. Zing!
Baseball, ultimately, is the Western hemisphere’s equivalent of a public stoning. Now don’t get me wrong: I like a good stoning as much as the next person (the next person’s one of those dusky-shaded fundamentalist whackos in this instance) but baseball isn’t a good stoning.
There is something about motor racing that I like. It’s the same thing that most people like about motor racing, actually. That thing is, of course, the high speed collision with bits of car flying off into spectators and bits of driver flying off into television cameras.
This admittedly exciting crumb, however, cannot compensate for the rest of the sport which consists solely of cars driving.
I drive a car every day. Lots of people do. I overtake and brake. I fill up with petrol. Sometimes I turn left and sometimes I turn right. Watching other people do these exact same things on a narrow circuit, going round and round and round and round and round… is the most mind-numbingly boring thing ever. Someone has a 1.3 second lead over someone else? Really? That’s amazing because there was a Mazda ahead of me on the A27 just the other day but it probably had a good 2.5, maybe 2.6 second lead over me (I like to allow a good couple of seconds gap; it’s just common sense after all). Anybody want to watch that? No? How unbelievably strange!
And who actually goes to one of these events, thinking it will be a good spectator experience? Vroooom! A load of cars just drove past! Twiddle thumbs. Twiddle thumbs. Pick nose a bit. Scratch crotch for a while. Peer around to see if there’s anything happening. Twiddle thumbs. Eyes getting heavy. Eyes getting heavier. Wait! There’s a sound! Wait! Vroooom! Wow! A load of cars just drove past! The same cars! Maybe in the same order! Or maybe not!
If you like motor racing then you will just love these brand new apartments I’m building right next to the motorway!
Martial arts can be exciting! And judo is a martial art! So that means… judo… can… be… exciting!
But it isn’t.
Judo is the runt of the martial arts litter. If judo were the offspring of an Irish family in centuries past it would have been shooed away and forced to join the priesthood. If judo were a pizza it would be Anchovy Feast with extra anchovies. If judo were one of the seven dwarves it would be Twatty, the eighth dwarf that’s never mentioned ever.
I’ve watched a judo competition at close quarters. I have one vivid memory of the sporting event: feet.
I don’t like feet. If I were genetically modifying myself I’d give me cat paws. Cat paws are great. Feet are foul. Feet have toes and toes are gruesome. Retractable claws might improve toes somewhat but since we don’t have them that’s rather moot.
Feet at judo are uniformly black on the soles. Black. Dirty. Dirty, dirty feet. And the smell! One dirty, sweaty foot is pretty bad. Two – most of us have two – is twice as bad. An enclosed room with dozens of judo competitors each of whom owns two (typically) dirty, sweaty feet is vile beyond imagining.
Okay, let’s forget about the sight and smell of feet of judo competitors (I try, oh how I try!). After all, other martial arts suffer from the same foot-based abomination of a handicap. What makes the sport of judo so utterly crummy in comparison? When I was around five or six years of age I would sometimes get in fights with other kids of my age. Said fights consisted of holding on and trying to push over or trip the other person. I was not taught this method of fighting and I can only suppose the other child in the grip of combat had also not picked up this technique from anything other than natural instinct either. As years would pass we, as children, would discard such fighting systems in favour of arm-flailing, fist-waving, and poohead-laden obscenities. The original system we instinctively picked up and then threw away as we matured is not a martial art.
Do you hear me judo? You’re not a martial art! You’re an infantile hissy fit. You’re dancing in pyjamas. With not much dancing.
I don’t know why people take up judo (there’s nothing to learn) and I don’t know why people compete in it (unless they just want to be held) and I really don’t know why people watch it. Especially not in the actual sports arena. Did I mention the smell of dirty, sweaty feet?