Couch Potato

I don’t “get” the concept of being a sports supporter. Playing sports: that’s completely different. I understand that completely, whether it’s the competitive urge to help your team win, or the personal desire to excel. (Or indeed, just the fun of physical activity.) That’s not to say that I’m particularly competitive myself. While I’ve never been fit or co-ordinated enough to put up much of a challenge in any sport, there are probably some kinds of contest where I’d be really good. Chess, say. Or pub quizzes.

But I can’t be bothered. Winning at chess just wouldn’t give me enough of a thrill to compensate for the tedium of playing the game, although I do see that it could be rewarding to some. But watching the game? Or football, cricket, motor racing? No, I can’t grasp the attraction of that.

As I understand it, you pick a team (or a competitor in individual events) and “support” them, by wanting them to win. I know that sometimes the allegiance is based on nationalistic ideas, and my scepticism for those leads to lack of interest in the outcome of the sport. I really don’t see why I should be pleased when Graeme McDowell wins at golf because he’s from Portrush and not Portsmouth or Portland. The only reason I like to see England lose (at anything) is a reaction to the jingoistic bullshit we get on British television. Really, it doesn’t matter one bit.

And it’s common to support a team that you have no connection to at all. Why? Sometimes they will win, and sometimes they will not win. I was going to say that the supporters have no influence on that, but on reflection, I realise that they do. Supporters’ money helps to pay for better facilities, and in the case of football, more skillful players. But that doesn’t account for the decision made by a supporter to choose the team in the first place.

I remember a sketch on the Fast Show where John Thompson played a character who had decided to become a football fan, but hadn’t quite grasped the etiquette. That led to his innocent but shocking revelation that he had changed allegiance when his original chosen team had failed to win. It was only funny because we know you’re not supposed to do that: you stick with “your” team through thick and thin (or thin, thin and more thin in the case of Portsmouth); but why?

I got stuck writing this blog. I only had a question, and no answers. Usually, when I start to write without a final destination in mind, the process of thinking about what I’m saying leads me to some conclusion or another (logically credible or not) but not this time. All I can say is “I don’t get it.”

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