Some things I learned from playing sport
November 10, 2009
I have always mercilessly mocked jocks who love their sport, sneered over the cover of my literary novel at their enthusiasm for the game, and despised fan culture with its branded merchandise and passionate devotion to the team.
Which puts me in a tricky dilemma now because on Saturday night at our derby season final I heard this aggressive, competitive screaming girl-jock hurling abuse at the opposing team. And it was me. And when I say abuse, it went like this: “Kill her! Kill that jammer! Fuck her up! Kill her!”
I see stickers on my league-mate’s helmets that say “Roller Derby saved my soul”, but I fear that derby has damned me to hell for all eternity.
The only explanation I can give is that maybe sport is like love – it’s not rational, it makes you say and do crazy things. And you can’t help falling in love – it just creeps up and snatches you sometimes and then you are in its power till it lets you go. Every now and again something big happens in the rest of my life which puts derby in its place. I like that.
Another thing I have been learning is that those noises men make at the gym are not just for show. If you have to grunt then you’re doing it right. You sound most uncouth though.
I think I have been a spectator at a sport event perhaps twice ever. I didn’t realise how much goes on behind the scenes to make a big game happen, or how hard players work so they get to play. I have been finding out and am constantly amazed by the people who come and help for the love of it, with no hope or wish or intention of ever playing or being in the limelight. It is humbling and would make me a bit teary if I wasn’t so tough.
I now fetishise derby paraphernalia, get jittery over logo mockups, and can pick where derby girls and fans are from by their tshirts. I own sport clothes, drink sport drinks and eat vast amounts of protein.
Basically, I’ve sold out. I don’t read as many fancy books as I used to because I am either training, at a meeting, tired from training, eating after training, or gossiping about derby. (Gossip is a very important part of playing sport). I am a jock and that is fine.
And by gosh - WINNING! It’s like coming really fucking hard! Yeah Smash Malice. That was real good.