Monday, February 05, 2007
An Enthusiasm for Rugby
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The other day I overheard someone using the oft-said phrase, “School days are the best days of your life…” and I wanted to throttle them. If ever there was a saying that should be consigned to the depths of hell forever then this one is it. It ranks up alongside “it’s only when you’re in intense pain do you truly know you’re alive” and “a hard kick in the balls is good for you.” Actually I don’t know whether anyone has ever used that last one, but it makes about the same amount of sense.
School was a place that alternated between utter boredom and complete terror. Suddenly and completely out of the blue, the environment could become extremely hostile from teachers on a power trip or bullies who had decided they didn’t like my accent, my name or the length of my hair.
But while school was generally something to be endured, PE was a punishment just for being alive. I never saw the point of it. As a relatively uncoordinated child, Physical Education seemed to be a subject designed specifically to humiliate me on every possible level, where the bullies were teacher’s pet and the teachers themselves were the epitome of narcissistic, sadistic, power mad bastards.
This is not the first time I’ve written about my pathological hatred for school sports (see Sports Day, Sports Day the Re-run, Rugby, and PE Teachers are Demons From Hell) and I think it would be fair to say that I carry a few psychological scars from this time in my life, which is why I am still struggling to cope with the idea that my son actually wants to give up his Sunday mornings to go and play rugby.
It’s as if he’s turned round and said, “Dad, I want to go to a club every weekend for 2 hours where I will be beaten up, demeaned, embarrassed and ground down into the… er, ground.”
And he wants to go back every week. No one is forcing him or twisting his arm; he is choosing to play rugby and comes home appearing to have enjoyed himself. I am struggling so hard to get my head around this.
I’ve sometimes wondered what form my children’s inevitable teenage rebellions will take against their parents, and at 3am, when the anxieties of the future play so prominently on the mind, I get this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that he’s going to become a professional rugby player and I, as the dutiful father will have to accompany him to matches and cheer him on from the side.