Unofficial Anthems 8: It’s an odd boy who doesn’t like sport

Haven’t checked if Stephen Fry (for it is he, he who apparently cannot be questioned :-/) is involved with the Olympics, but if he is remind him his favourite Bonzos song is this one. He explained in interviews and Moab Is My Washpot about finding this song and as a public school boy instantly got the compulsory sport (and queer) references. Because if you didn’t like sport at public school (or any school, really) you were very queer indeed.

Friends have said that being gay precludes you from certain team sports – I know of exceptions, but there does seem to be a sort of disjunct there between being a sports ‘team player’ and being queer. The uniqueness has many upsides though – a brief look through the history books will reveal a lot of free thinkers and innovative leaders who weren’t straight – possibly more than the statistical 5-10% anyway.

Certainly I hated sport, team sports anyway…I was the one hanging back away from the scrum or the hockey sticks looking longingly at the girls playing Tennis. We weren’t allowed Tennis (yes how gender-reinforced is that!) but relying on your own skill and not others who will let you down seemed far more realistic. Strange thing is at break was happy to play rounders or non-team version of football which was closer to the original game – ie. you against everyone else trying to score a goal. I think it was the enforced team nature and enforced conformity that got me.

Sport is and was used as a method of control, and indeed as lampooned in Oh What a Lovely War! and If and other places as a way to teach war to public schoolboys especially before the first world war. In fact war was taught as another sort of sport to that class…until the machine gun and tank wiped them out.

So it seems appropriate to post this before the Opening Ceremony. Sport is good, they say. Sport is healthy. So why is it usually team sports and why do you have to conform to an idea of control and their rules to play? It’s because sport is never apolitical, and is never that healthy, mentally and nationally, anyway. Physically the jury is out; ask athletes in their 30s and 40s or older about their knees and joints – they literally wear them out, or get injuries causing all kinds of stresses in later life – and that’s without the doping and steroids and diet. At the extremes it’s far from healthy…moderation is the real game I think. Rather than an idea of a perfect size or perfect weight which is complete poppycock – and causes more stress than it’s worth, and ignores genetics and other factors.

That’s without the whole ‘sport being the only way out’ class issue for poor people…The Hunger Games indeed.

So no I won’t be watching the Opening Ceremony, better things to do. I will be wearing this shirt tonight though.

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