As a child I was occasionally forced to take part in various forms of sport or gymnastics, something which I found both pointless and painful.
My first encounter with sport took place in Tasmania, where I attended a small school in the town of Burnie, which gloried in the name of Upper Federal Street State School. Actually its name was almost bigger than the school itself, as it consisted of only two classrooms.
AFL….. Refined Street Fighting
Anyhow, the sports of choice there were cricket and a weird game that only Australians could have invented – Australian Rules Football, or AFL. This is a serious contact sport that is a sort of amalgam of football, rugby and American football (without the armour) and street fighting, and in those days seemed to me to be a matter of rendering as many of the opposing team unconscious as possible by whatever means you could think of… So punching, kicking, hair pulling and so on were all standard techniques.
Well I played this abomination once, saw it for what it is, a free card for bullies and not an activity which any sane person would voluntarily take part in, and resolved never to be trapped into playing it ever again.. a vow I stuck to through thick and thin.. Refusing to even go anywhere near the field where this “game” was “played”.
Anyone for cricket??
After this, I was then introduced to the weird game known as cricket. Boredom refined to a high degree, interspersed with moments of real pain. To explain this a bit… Most of the time in cricket (I gathered) one stands at some distance from the three people who are actually playing it, i.e the bowler, and the two batsmen. The former is responsible for throwing the ball at the batsman, and the batsmen are expected to hit that ball far enough away so as to allow them to run madly back and forth between the working position of the bowler and the set of wooden posts known as the wicket, where the guy who hits the ball stands waiting for it to come his way.
The rest of the “players” stand around these folk in a variety of set positions (some of which have the weirdest names, such as, wait for it… Silly Mid On, or Silly Mid Off.) I was one of these standing around folk the first (and last) time I played cricket. I was standing there waiting for something to happen, having been told that should the ball come my way I was to try and catch it, which would have caused the batsman to be declared “out”, which means he is finished and has to leave the field.
In due time (it felt about thirty years) the ball finally did come my way,and I grabbed it as it passed my head at speed – and promptly dropped it. It turned out to be very hard and fast.. and hurt my hand like hell…
So after that, everytime the ball came my way I simply turned my back on it and let it go peacefully on its way….
So that was my life as a cricketer…. Never again was I tempted to stand around all day doing that one.
Marathon Runner? Not Really!
My next encounter with the noble concept of “sport” was in cross country running. I was tricked into this one day at a school I went to in the UK (I was about 11 years old). Once again, I was told it was fun, and I would love it. I rather doubted this, but thought I would at least give it a go. So duly turned up in my long shorts and plimsolls (early versions of sports shoes), and was shown where to start, where I was supposed to run, and where I was supposed to end up….
I hadn’t realised that I was expected to run madly all over the place in the forests and fields around the school, but bravely set off when told to start running. I very quickly realised that this was not an activity that I had any desire to continue, so I stopped running, thought about the route I was supposed to follow, and worked out that there was a perfectly good short cut. And set off, walking, on this short cut.
I duly arrived back at the school, fit and happy, wandered up to the finish line, said Hi to the people waiting there, went off home and never did anything so silly again.
In a later post I will discuss my experiences in school gymnasiums, also not the greatest thing in my life you may be surprised to hear.
Share with us:
If your school life was made hell by the mania that schools seem to have to force kids to chase balls around in one way or another, or force them to run madly from one pointless place to an equally pointless place, do share your experiences with us here.