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Letters 2022



4 April 2022

Subject: Not the world cup AGAIN???

I saw a news item this weekend in which a lot of guys were getting over-excited about choosing teams for some bollocky international sports "event". I see that it is the footbore world cup. Yes, I know I'm supposed to capitalise that, but I refuse to give it any importance.

So, my question is, didn't they have this nonsense last year, in which clutches of louts swaggered up and down city streets, festooned in team colours and chanting "It's coming home it's coming home it's coming home"? And then, to my delight, they looked pretty silly when an Italian team mashed the English team into the ground and skipped away, fa la la, with the cup? Wasn't that the world cup?

If not, (and you can imagine that I really don't give a monkey's flapdoodle what it was), then why must they have these pointless little competitions every naffing year? And if it isn't every year, it jolly-well feels like it is.

Well, you know exactly what to do, don't you, my sterling fellows. Read a book, switch off the news when sp*rts coverage comes on, play the piano, join a band and rock mightily like a pagan warlord on the edge of oblivion, knit yourself a new car, do anything but watch the unhinged hoopla of the world cup.

Let the whole apoplectic toiletfest come and go while you sit all oblivious.

"Did y'see the match last night?" some goggle-eyed twillock will jabber at you, in the office break room. "What can you be referring to, my good man?" you will say from the depths of your gardening magazine. "I watched a YouTube video about aphids."

Defeat them with indifference, and watch them gasp in disbelief; it's much more effective than snarling your hatred of sp*rts, and much more fun.

Stephen






13 February 2022

Subject: A Persecuted Minority

As another Stupor Bore (Super Bowl) Sunday barrels down on us again, I was spurred to give my two cent view on the inanity of sports mania in our society. BTW, it's utterly silent in our house today as my wife and our daughters sit quietly in their own space internetting, doing homework or lost in a book. None of us is into sports.

Sports mania is a sort of persecution in our society. As so many have noted here and similar forums, if you don't conform, you're looked down upon and kids pay the highest price. I grew up in a greater family in which team sports was important and expected to be played by the children. My siblings and close cousins were all star high school athletes. I, on the other hand, was utterly bored and detached from sports. In our rural community, the first thing you were asked was, "So, which sports are you in?" Not, "What are your favorite subjects?" or "How are your grades?" Our school district, moreover, was and still is one of the worst in the state. Being dragged to Little League and Pop Warner as a kid, I was so bored I would play in the dirt or study the grass and weeds. An older cousin who played in Little League used to scream and cry when his team lost, hardly an exemplar of "good sportsmanship." My parents pressured me into joining sports teams, making all the wrong arguments: "Richy and Mark and Cindy and [fill in the cousin] play sports"; "It teaches teamwork"; "You always have your nose in a book. Go out and play sports!"; and on and on. I was made to feel inferior and as an outcast. Same went for school. If you weren't a jock or an active supporter, you were borderline treasonous. All of the ostracism just made me draw further into my shell and close myself off from my family members. And, yes, I read tons of books.

The thing, however, was this. I was a strapping 6-foot, fit teen. I loved the outdoors and spent countless hours hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, camping, etc. And I did do individual sports such as skiing and tennis. Just no team sports. I loved playing football as a kid -- until the adults swept in like drill sergeants to draft the boys into Pop Warner with the message, "Winning is everything." They stole the fun from the pastime I loved and made it regimentation.

In student government, I fought and won battles against the jocks and the administration, mainly centered around resources that were disproportionately diverted to the beloved football and other favored sports teams at the expense of textbooks and club resources. The two sports I did engage in -- tennis and skiing -- were treated as state-mandated sports for nerds and consequently received zero funding. My parents and other family members never once came to see me compete in these (nerdy) sports. My battles against the jocks won me disdain and ostracism from the jocks and fellow travelers and quiet support from other kids like myself.

As an adult, I make no bones about telling people who try to engage me in sports banter that "I don't follow sports." Period. Full stop. We raised our kids to value academic learning over all else in school. I received an Ivy League education at schools where sports were almost an afterthought and the students overwhelmingly focused on academic pursuits. And I entered a career that is both prestigious and highly competitive. Sports did not teach me teamwork nor a competitive spirit to succeed. All of that propaganda we get in school is sheer malarkey.

I remain fit and trim. My wife and I work out and lead healthy lives. All without the "benefit" of being dragooned into team sports when we were younger.

So, on this Stupor Bore Sunday, I'll pass on the chicken wings and beer and bellowing over some supersized, over paid future semi-invalids battling over a pig skin ball on expensive artificial turf over... what??