The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

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.

*Shudder*

20 comments

Stella said...

Aaw Kim, I feel your pain. Hopefully it's just a phase he will grow out of!

quinn said...

ISNT IT GREAT KIM!!!!!! whoohooo..!!
lol...It is very similar to my kid at the karate. Tonight he finished off his 3rd class with sparring with 2 adults. One of them is a blue belt and has only been sparring a short time, hence , his techniques leave a little to be desired. After a point is made they are suppose to touch gloves and get ready for the next round.

However, this "gentleman" neglected to acknowledge the point and after my son was standing still waiting to touch gloves ..proceeded to throw a ridge hand to his face !!
Although my son was less than impressed, he will no doubt be back at the club tomorrow for another 3 or 4 classes of karate.

I think it is awesome what your son wants to do. ( personally I see rugby as brutal). but as long as he really enjoys the sport and IS finding fun and socially happy ..then I say ...lets all jump on the bandwagon and go to a game!!!

Kim Ayres said...

Stella - I hope so

Quinn - sigh...

100percent said...

Hey Kim, but isn't it great that you haven't transferred (subconsciously or not) your own feelings of inadequacy in the athletics department or rage at sportsmen, to your son? I have a near pathological fear of spiders. If I had children, I'd be delighted if this was one thing they didn't inherit from me. By the way, I too share your thoughts on PE at school. At an all boys school in Ireland, we were not given the opportunity to play "English" games, like football, rugby or even tennis! No, we had to endure Hurling or Gaelic football - both of which I love to watch now, but having 2 left feet and spectacles, was not much good at on the pitch! Didn't help that neither my father or brothers were much better.

Jupiter's Girl said...

My daughter is going to be playing volleyball soon. It isn't as aggressive as rugby, but it still has a big ball that can hit you in the face and hurt. We aren't very athletic either. It will be just something to do. I worry for her -the humiliation of being a so/so or bad player - letting down team members who don't want you there. I'll be there, but I might not watch.

Rogan has nerve. It's a tribute to you.

quinn said...

LOL kim your response to me made me laugh so much..
I also really agree with 100 percent.
There are so many things from my own experiences that have brought to me uncomfortable feelings and strong aversions. However, I am greatfull that my own feelings have not, ( as far as I can tell)transferred to my boys.
It is good for them to find their own likes and dislikes for their own reasons. We are all, after all, individuals.

BStrong said...

If it's something that Rogan loves to do and it's not illegal I would encourage him to keep it up. Your experiences in school are not his. This is just one of those things that he will have to learn on his own.

As a father of a future rugby star, you just need to make sure that he wears a cup.

Pat said...

But it's good he wants to do something physical as opposed to computer games amd telly. I empathise with the school phobia and sports. UGH!

Kim Ayres said...

100Percent - I find it much easier to watch sports I was never forced to do in school. When I was in Canada, I was fine watching Ice Hockey and American Football. Never seen Hurling though.

Jupiter's Girl - No, he gets that from his mother

Quinn - yes, we are all individuals (I can hear them crying in unison in "Life of Brian")

BStrong - I'm hoping he manages to keep all his teeth - at least until he's settled down with a nice girl.

Pat - You're right there. In fact we've refused to let him have an Xbox/Playstation etc. Far too addictive. I think if he had one, I'd never be off it.

Pendullum said...

My husband is artistic..
And his father is a self centred oof... And My FIL wanted a football player, a man's man...
So he would purchase all the latest sports equipment...(not to play a sport with is son, no for that meant effort)
and my husband as a young boy dutifully put ont the equipment... and went down to the basement to build a model kit...alone...

Our daughter is a natural athlete... But she hates to win... and we do not push that side... But she can scale a wall, run a race, swiom lengths... but as long as no one loses... and no one wins...

Binty McShae said...

Pendullum, your daughter sounds like a thoroughly nice young lady. Me, on the other hand, I love to win. But that doesn't make me a sore loser, no siree - I am very gracious and sporting in defeat. But then as I am crap at most games, and as I am also a Scotland supporter, I have had to get used to defeat over the years...

Kim, I just started playing football. I'm no better than I used to be at school but age has added a little girth to my peers as well so I can hold my own a lot better than I used to. And my arty dad would be soooo disappointed! Hah!

The Birdwatcher said...

If he wants to do it, let him. Encourage him. Rugby is a great team sport, teaching you disipline as well as keeping you physically fit. Make sure he wears a gum shield though! I speak from personal experience and regret. I am with you about school days though. I still feel sick when I drive anywhere near my old school. Without doubt the worst days of my life.

avocadoinparadise said...

The point of PE is so kids don't get fat sitting in one spot all day. Most adults could learn a thing or 2 from that compulsary physical activity.

Gyrobo said...

I for one was far more bored than terrified.

The bullies feared me, for I had a Tantalus Field generator installed in my laboratory.

Stinkypaw said...

I agree school was a rough patch, and PE was "interesting" at times...

I did martial arts (karate) for 20 years, and started in high school, my parents weren't too thrill about it, but it was something I wanted to do. It bothered me so much that they were negative about it all, and at times resented them for it. I'd say encourage your son and support him, even if you don't fully get why he wants to do "that" sport.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for your comments. Don't worry, I'm not discouraging the lad.

I wish I'd had one of Gyrobo's Tantalus Field generators when I was at school though.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

PE? Why? Why'd you have to bring that up? I thought it was gone and forgotten and would never enter my mind ever again!

I hated PE. I didn't mind playing the sports, but it was the warm up run at the start, and all the tests. I was sort of lucky with the run, though, because I had a friend who wasn't very fit either, so we lagged behind everyone else.

But yeah, the teacher was horrible, but most of the kids were okay. There were one or two that were jerks.

Oh, but the thing I hated the most was the cross-country run that was compulsory up until high school. I did my best to come up with some sort of obscure injury or illness that might preclude me from participating in the madness.

Oh, and athletics days were also bad, but not quite as bad, as I was quite the shot putter and discus thrower. I hated all the running events, though.

Hmm.

Kim Ayres said...

I didn't mind cross country, but that was because we so rarely did it. Same with athletics. It was the week-in week-out "team" sports that I despised

iLL Man said...

Like sport football, cycling and motor sport. That's about it. I liked running as a kid, but my fitness is such now that running for any longer than three minutes almost kills me.

PE teachers were indeed total dobbers. Some things were ok, like athletics, basketball, softball. Football gave me the fear though and volleyball could quite frankly go and get stuffed.

Kim, I think a bit of aversion therapy is needed with your son and the rugger. It's an evil game and ought never to be encouraged. ;)

Kim Ayres said...

Ill Man - He just got back from another session a few minutes ago.

"Hello" he called as he entered the house.

"Hi son. Have you still got all your teeth?" I shouted down the stairs to him.

Apparently he has. Safe for another week.

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