Sport has never really interested me that much, perhaps it’s because I never came into contact with it until around 1946 when I started secondary schooling where it was part of the curriculum. PT followed by a cold shower how I loathed it, cricket in summer Rugby in winter like it or lump it you did it!
One year I recall we were introduced to swimming, we were taken by bus to the East Ham indoor swimming pool, and virtually thrown in to sink of swim. I sank; well almost I could just about swim the breadth of the pool, the length was another story though. The best bit about the swimming and the part I enjoyed was after the lesson such as it was, when we were all dressed and waiting for the transport back to school we’d have hot buttered toast at the kiosk.
This wasn’t the run of the mill toast, this was real with real butter. How they came to have real butter I’ll never know, and the toast? The ladies would cut the slices of bread and with a long toasting fork hold the bread in front of an open coal fire and the smell was wondrous and the taste indescribable. How we’d wait with mouths watering whilst our toast was being cooked. Unforgettable!
The London Olympics of 1948 didn’t excite me very much, all I remember of these games is the names of two athlete’s who’s names became synonymous with courage and dedication. Fanny Blankers-Koen, a 30 year old Dutch woman and Emil Zatopek a Czech long distance runner.
And they did not get paid nor did they have sponsors!
I was living in Melbourne at the time of the 1956 games and that’s about all I can remember of them except that there was plenty of strikes and trouble during the preparation for them.
Television was around at the time but it was not then the insidious intrusive institution which it now is, consequently the men and women taking part in the games were still true to their sport. Sponsorship hadn’t started to corrupt the principles of the games. But I still wasn’t particular interested in them.
My boy, Nathan, on the other hand takes after his mother as they are both keen sports people. My daughters have a healthy interest in sport, Emma perhaps more so than Sarah, she was a great ‘First Baseman’ in her team and was a pretty good batter too.
When Nathan was growing I encouraged Nathan’s love of sport and went to all his Football & Baseball training and games and I did become quite involved, especially with the baseball. Unfortunately for Nathan his parents are not particularly large people, consequently he is no ‘six-footer+’ which seems to be a requirement if you want to succeed in the game.
He is a brilliant player, great hands, great eyes and can read the game perfectly but he falls short on height which is ludicrous but there it is!
I must admit that at the 2000 games in Sydney I did go to one event (and only one) the gold medal baseball final between the USA & Cuba. Nothing else could have dragged me there.
Now to the 2012 games in London, I happened to see a news item regarding one Federer getting a silver medal and I thought ‘ello ello; what’s this? Isn’t he the current Wimbledon champ and a big time professional (BTP), and sure enough it was he.
What the hell was he doing playing for his country in an Olympic tournament have the games sunk so low? Then I find a lady name of Williams another BTP from the US after Olympic medals! Then I hear about some so called dream team; a group of highly paid professional basketball players and I can’t help wondering why these people take part.
My conclusion is that their countries prevail upon them to participate in the sure and certain knowledge that they will win medals (lots of them) and make their countries tally of medals even higher .
I find it hard to believe that somebody like Federer who apparently cries if he gets beaten for a major title and the associated muti-million dollar cheque would give his all and very best for the sake of a medal irregardless of it’s colour, so why is he there? Just to add to his countries medal count; that’s why. have they no shame?
The arrogance of some participants and their followers and fans in the current games in London leave me nothing if not disgusted but I’m not going into that now; suffice to say that there is nothing about the modern Olympics which would encourage me to take an active interest in sport.
The Olympic Games? Perhaps “The Olympic Shames” is more appropriate!