Dear Anna Ford

It's not only women who are fed up with the `boys' games' that dominate the sports news. A football-hating, non-tribal male sticks up for less macho pursuits
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
My ears pricked up when I heard you criticise the sports news on the Today programme for being all about "boys' games", and I notice that you have continued to make gentle digs at your sports colleagues ever since.

I write to let you know that it isn't just women you are speaking for. It's my guess that there are plenty of men around who are also fed up with the incessant coverage of football, rugby and cricket in our sports reports, but they keep quiet because to speak out carries the risk of instant alienation from the rest of the boys who follow the macho games.

There seems to be an assumption by news editors that every man in the country waits with bated breath for the results of the latest Test match, rugby international or some obscure football game. My local newspaper informed its readers how wonderful it was that England had won a match in Australia or somewhere and proclaimed, "There's nothing like a Test match win to put a spring in your step on a dull Monday morning". Oh, really? So the next time the car won't start and my wife is late for work and it's raining and the baby is screaming its head off I'll just lie back and think of England.

I came out of the closet a long time ago as far as football is concerned. I don't like it. I didn't like it at primary school - where it was almost obligatory - mainly because I had the co-ordination and ball control of a tranquillised sloth.

I turned my sporting attentions elsewhere. In the rough, tough, council- estate, comprehensive-school world in which I grew up, mine was a love that dared not speak its name. I became a cyclist. This was a long time before mountain bikes made the sport reasonably acceptable and as far as my peers were concerned I was a complete weirdo. And that was before they found out that cyclists shave their legs.

It is the tribal aspect of sport that amuses me. It is something that is missing from cycling and other solitary disciplines such as running. I don't fit into a tribe because I don't support a team, and it was because of this that I became a non-person in the eyes of football supporters. But I am happy. I would rather be my own man than get caught up in that world of pretence that is the lot of ersatz football fans - whose desire to belong to a group is so strong that they construct a world around them in which 22 men chasing a ball becomes a matter of life or death, or as Bill Shankly once said, more important than that.

I look forward to your campaign continuing - you may eventually persuade your colleagues that there are more than three sports worth knowing about. In the meantime, I shall be taking a tip from you and making a cup of tea when the sports news comes on.

Comments