Thursday, August 26, 2004

A quick observation

I did a variation on my usual run today - the one that I take when I leave things a little late and it's getting dark. It takes me past many residences and up a major high street rather than around a large forest (preferred, scenic, insane to do in the dark).

In 40 minutes, I saw one other runner and innumerable people in their lounge rooms through the large, open bay windows that Victorian terraces offer to bored, bouncing snoops like me.

So there I was, propelling myself along a road noting what people were doing. With few exceptions, they were sitting on their lounge suites watching TV. Watching, may I add, the Olympics. One woman happened to look up as I ran past and looked a little surprised to see an actual flesh-and-blood runner.

I really found this to be amusing. Sport has now become something for specialists to do and display on TV. A regular diet of football, cricket, rugby, tennis etc. broken every four years with the all-singing, all-dancing, all-corrputing spectacle of the Olympics.

As a rule, I don't like watching sport for any length of time (read: anything over 10ish minutes), I much prefer to participate. The only exceptions to this are figure skating, dance (which I like to do as well as watch) and ice hockey - which must surely be the most amusing excuse for a dozen men to don a lot of clothing and beat the living bejeezus out of each other. I especially like the moments when the puck...ostensibly the central object of the whole game...is left in some desolate corner as teams systematically test the integrity of the perspex shield with opponent's bodies.

What I want to know is - what's the appeal? I can't see the point in watching some sport again and again. These people aren't looking for professional tips on how to improve their own performances (unless Armchair Hurdles is some new Olympic category I haven't heard of) and I can imagine that the awe of seeing a human perform in a sport wears off after the first few hours of watching. So what is it?


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