Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Roar of the Crowd: On Sporting Events

     The ball sails through the air and lands in the waiting hands. Run forward. Dodge. Run on. Pass the ball. Pass again. Run on. Tackled. Release the ball. Pass back. Run. Tackled again. Release the ball. Pass back. Pass. Pass. Run. Dodge. Dodge. Run. Run. RUN KEEP RUNNING AND HE’S OVER THE LINE. TRY!

Scotland rugby team scoring a try
(Source)
     What’s your favourite sport? Most of us have one or two that we’re at least partly interested in. Maybe you just catch the final score on the radio; maybe you buy tickets to go see a few matches; maybe you stay up until crazy hours of the night to watch games or races in different time zones. It’s funny, the emotions that sports can bring out in us; after all, it’s often just a bunch of people running madly after a ball of some shape. But we get excited, competitive, angry, frustrated and delighted about what happens.

     Personally, I’m not into much in the way of sports, but I do like a bit of rugby from time to time, as some may have guessed from the opening paragraph. The 6 Nations tournament - currently partway through - is when I watch the most. I don’t have a local team that I support, as I’m not invested enough to watch matches all the day, but I’m a staunch Scotland supporter in any international matches they play. Usually I watch games on TV, but I have been to a couple in person before. And it’s there that I’ve realised my favourite thing about sporting events; their way of bringing people together, of creating a community.

     The atmosphere in a stadium can be electric. People cheering and screaming and chanting and singing, faces painted with the colours and designs of their team, waving flags and banners, dressed in their team’s strip or a mad costume, blowing whistle and horns and even - as I saw once - playing the bagpipes. Crowds are so excited and passionate, so determined to see their team win, and it can be something quite special to behold. The idea that there are thousands of you, who have never met and may have nothing else in common, but are all united for the sake of this one thing. It’s like you’re part of some hugely extended, utterly bonkers, family. I find this to be especially true when supporting my country, as I’m not only invested in the sports team, but I feel a huge sense of national pride. I could write a whole other post about national pride, and why too much of it can be a bad thing, but when I’m singing our songs that have been around for hundreds of years, alongside so many other who share the same heritage, for the sake of wanting nothing more than a small sporting victory, surely it can’t be all that bad?

Scotland rugby fans with saltire face paint and tartan kilts and bonnets
(Source)
     Lines do have to be drawn, of course. Rivalries need to remain friendly, and be left behind when games are over. My opinion of anyone would never be altered based on what team they support, and while I am guilty of shouting a few names and bad words at the TV screen during matches, I would never say those things to a person, or even as much when attending a match. My animosity towards other teams only exists during the match, and then everything goes back to normal afterwards. As a Scot, we typically always want England to lose to everyone; but I have friends and family who are English, and I bear them no ill will because of sporting events. We have to remember that sports are just silly games, and while losing sucks, it’s nothing worth being sour or bearing grudges over.

     Sports are something to be enjoyed. We band together in support of our favourite teams, spurring and motivating them onwards. Big sporting events can even unite people across oceans; look how many of us watch sports we never normally would during the Olympics (I somehow learned a lot about boxing last time!), or tuned into the Superbowl when we understand nothing of how American Football actually works. They are a source of entertainment, that can be incredibly fun to watch, and make us feel part of something bigger. And there’s nothing wrong with showing love for your team, as long as you can be a good sportsman and respectful of others. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do believe there’s some rugby on this weekend… COME ON LADS!

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