Monday, April 24, 2006

Losing Interest In My Favourite Sport

At the weekend I watched the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix. Well, I say ‘watched’, but ‘slept through most of’ would be a more accurate description.

Not that this is particularly unusual – sitting down to watch TV on a Sunday after lunch will almost inevitably lead to a few minutes of resting my eyelids – but this time it was something more. I have finally reached the point where I have to admit that F1 is one of the most boring motor sports in the world.

I’ve been an avid follower since the mid 1990s, back in the heady days of Damon Hill and his tussles with Michael Schumacher. There was the glamour, the competition, the speed and of course the crashes. While I never wanted anyone to be hurt, there are few things as exciting to watch as a car smashing into pieces at high speed (it’s a guy-thing). It also helped that there was a British driver who was capable of winning not just individual races, but the entire championship. I’m not usually given over to bouts of nationalism, but I did like Damon Hill.

Then around the turn of the millennium there were some great races between Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher and despite my wife’s frustrated cries of “Why on earth would anyone want to watch a bunch of cars driving round in circles?” Sunday afternoon F1 was an absolute must for me.

After Häkkinen retired though, Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari was so dominant that the competition aspect of F1 virtually disappeared and it became increasingly difficult to shrug off Maggie’s even more frustrated cries of “Why on earth would anyone want to watch a bunch of cars driving round in circles following that red one?”

In addition, new car designs and regulations meant that overtaking has become nigh on impossible so most of it is done by strategicly timing the pit-stops rather than by one car passing another on the track.

I stuck with it last year because Ferrari finally fell behind in their dominance and with Fernando Alonso winning the championship, Michael Schumacher’s reign was finally over. And with the emergence of British driver, Jenson Button, there was at last hope for a new era in F1.

But it hasn’t really worked. Now it’s just a bunch of cars following a blue one instead of a red one, and Jenson Button is becoming the Tim Henman of the F1 world (for those who don’t follow tennis, Tim Henman is the nearly-man of the sport. Every year he starts off well, and every year the British public think ‘This could be it, this could be the year he finally wins!’ and every year he doesn’t. This leads to a great deal of disappointment and people muttering, quite unconvincingly, ‘Well, it’s not the winning it’s the taking part that counts…’).

So this year I’m finding it nigh on impossible to keep up any enthusiasm for the sport. I can fall asleep during the race confident in the knowledge that when I wake up the cars that were in the lead by the end of the second lap will be in the same places as they were as they enter lap 56, except for Jenson Button who will have dropped several places back because his car broke down, or something went wrong at the pit-stop.

This Sunday I didn’t even bother to watch the after-race commentary and I doubt whether I’ll take the time to tune in again this season.

24 comments:

Gyrobo said...

One day, not long from now, someone will create the first anti-gravity car.

And then you will love the sport again, as it will be played on land, in the air, and over water.

Nikki said...

Aaaahhhh Kim, you and your wife have the same talk that hubby and I have. He loves Nascar. Unfortunately, I can't see him giving it up anytime soon. Back before they put it on TV, he and his dad would tune into the radio and listen to a bunch of idiots go in a circle. It just makes you wonder...

Ankit Sud said...

Its unfair that just because the british driver is not winning you wont watch.

Last year was the 1st time an Indian driver was on the F1 circuit. Narain lost big time, it was easy to see that he was a good driver but was let down by his team, i didnt lose my interest. Enjoy Formula One !!!

Jagd Kunst said...

Congratulations, you've taken your first step. Are there any other sports you can purge yourself of?

Dr Maroon said...

Was it like the day that suddenly your matchbox and corgi cars just seemed ridiculous?

F1 has always been an obscenity.

How can you be anti-Barbie yet pro such a pointless waste of money tied up with corporations who actively market a killer addiction to secure their sales?

I think you owe that woman an apology.

Hope i haven't ruined your day. I'm in a funny mood.

Charlie said...

. . . for those who don’t follow tennis. NOW you're talking boring. Watching paint dry is infintely more satisfying.

Perhaps F1 would be more interesting if they installed several roundabouts. Here, we call them demolition derbies.

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo - So long as it isn't totally dominated by one team (or one driver) and it involves overtaking then I'm sure it will be a lot more fun

Nikki - Nascar? They don't even turn right in that do they?

Ankit Sud - welcome to my ramblings! It's not really to do with having a British driver - that's only a very small aspect. It's the lack of overtaking and the dominance of one or two people that make it boring

Jagd - I've been purged of most sports - see my post PE Teachers Are Demons From Hell for more on that.

Dr Maroon - Yup, totally ruined, and it's all your fault... wait... you've redeemed yourself by putting up another episode of Gothic! All is forgiven!

Admiral - I'm not a tennis fan either, but you don't have to be to know about Tim Henman and the British reaction to him (Henmania as it's known)

Attila The Mom said...

Ironically, I've read this twice, and to be perfectly honest, what I know about car racing would fit on a gnat's arse. ;-)

But I do know the feeling about losing interest in something I was previously passionate about. Then I sit around and wonder if I'm getting old....

SafeTinspector said...

Take up watching the WRC. Much more fun for the internet set.
Plus they have bitchin' little cars what look just like the little cars we can afford.

Actually, I can't be bothered with any sport. Can't keep my attention on it.

SafeTinspector said...

You know, for some reason I thought this was about the loss of interest in racing. I completely missed the subtext of losing passion about a subject in general.

Happened to me with Legos at the age of 14. Suddenly I no longer wanted to make-believe grand adventures in the basement with my Legos. I felt very sad at the time.

Most of my other hobbies and interests have continued without respite since then.

There have been things I've become disenchanted with, but I never regret that, because my passion has been replaced with actual dislike. I feel no nostalgia for the old feeling when I now think it was a foolish interest in any case.

Miss Litzi said...

Hi Kim,
I don’t think losing interest in something that we were once passionate about is necessarily a sign that we’re getting long in the tooth. I think it’s an indication that we’re changing and growing every day. Things that were appealing or meaningful at a certain stage of our life have helped shape us into what we are today and what we will be tomorrow.

happykat said...

You know the sport needs?
Trivia questions!
Every pit stop, drivers have to answer a random question correctly before they can get back on the track. All the questions will cover cabbage farming, clown make-up removal, and string theory.
That ought to get you interested again.

Kim Ayres said...

Atilla - I don't think it's so much as getting old as getting wiser.

SafeTinspector WRC does look like a lot of fun, but they don't show it on the terrestrial channels over here.

Oh, and I missed the subtext too - but that's the great thing about having intelligent and articulate commenters: they make me sound smarter than I actually am.

Miss Litzi - wise words!

HappyKat - What an excellent suggestion. I might just e-mail the F1 governing body with that one :)

SafeTinspector said...

Kim:I'm surprised! The UK usually does very well in rally racing.
Especially that zippy Ford Focus!

Stella said...

I can't watch ANY sport, just too boring and I am so thankful that my other half isn't interested either. And I think we have managed to pass on our disinterest to our children - a job well done!

Only time I watched a match from start to finish was just after my father died (he loved soccer, rugby, football (gaelic), hurling but he failed to pass on his enthusiasm to me). He was from Kilkenny (a great hurling county)and Kilkenny were playing in the All Ireland Hurling Finals two days after he was buried and I felt, in his memory, that I had to watch it and cheer on his team. They didn't even have the decency to win!

fatmammycat said...

I can only tug my hair with respect to your good lady wife. It is boring beyond belief. Like watching golf is boring, or -god forbid- snooker.

Kim Ayres said...

SafeTinspector - maybe so, but that didn't stop Rupert Murdoch acquiring the TV rights to broadcast it on Satellite

Stella - I would have thought that with you having just passed your driving test, you'd have been itching to get behind the wheel of a car and do 200 mph around a racing track :)

FMC - you mean you're not watching the snooker world championship as we speak!!!!

SafeTinspector said...

MUUUURRRDOOOCHHH!!!!
Rupert is such a prick.

St Jude said...

You've done better than me. I gave up on it last year.

Kim Ayres said...

SafeTinsector - one who owns about 3/4 of the worlds media

St Jude - I really should have.

Stella said...

LOL Kim maybe I WILL have a go!!!!

SafeTinspector said...

Yes, Rupert is a powerful frig.

ill man said...

A bit late on this one, but I reccomend swapping the life size scalextrics for Moto GP and Superbikes. Much more fun if wheels and engines are your thing.

Kim Ayres said...

Welcome to my ramblings, Ill Man. Sorry, but bike's just don't do it for me. I put it down to my near falling-off-the-back experience when I was about 14 that meant I never grew to love them