Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why I Don't Write About Sports

At about a quarter to five, one Saturday afternoon in May, things started to go wrong. Lionel Scaloni didn't kick the ball into row Z, Steven Gerrard scored a thoroughly predictable wondergoal; extra time, penalties, and the end of West Ham's FA Cup dream.

Up until that point things were looking good. There was the World Cup to look forward to, and an England team never better placed to win it all again. Our incumbent champions at fifteen-a-side were rebuilding, Jonny Wilkinson was uninjured. The Ashes rested safe in NW8.

It's all turned to shit now, of course. West Ham are sure to be relegated, John Terry's boys will fail to qualify for Euro 2008, we won't make the semis in France next year, and the Ashes are as good as lost.

Sport is depressing, and writing about it doesn't help. If it's a kind of proxy war then it's one where you're always, eventually, on the losing side. Unless you're Brazilian, or Australian. We're tribal creatures, I suppose, and we attach part of ourselves, the part that's intricately interwoven with our self-esteem, to these players and these teams. And most of the time they lose.

It struck me as curious that although sport is a big part of my life, as a spectator, and only occasionally a participant nowadays, I never feel driven to express what I feel about it. And now I know why. It's depressing, and it's incredibly difficult not to talk in clich├ęs, because that's how we tend to process sporting information. And I read a lot of websites that are written about sport, and most of them do it better than I could.

My name is Tom Miles. I am not a sportswriter.

No comments: