To tell you the truth, I have never in my entire life loved any sport. Whether it be cricket, hockey, football or tennis, I always believed ignorance was bliss. While children my age rushed out to play a game of badminton every evening, I curled up with a book on the bed. In school, I have hidden in the toilets, faked stomach aches and even made my parents write absent-letters only to escape the games period. I have never really understood how to hold a cricket bat, or how several men find chasing one single ball so exhilarating. And yes, people have laughed at my ignorance. Some have even questioned my aesthetic sensibilities. However, the rest have been disappointed at my failure to take up a sport and to comprehend what the ‘sporting spirit’ actually is.
Since my childhood I have seen my family, friends and neighbours wait with bated breath for the football World Cup. For them, life had meaning once every four years when a group of young, apparently handsome men ran after the ball all over a football field. It was during these times that the boys started wagering on matches, and the girls fell head-over-heels in love with the players. Everything about this ‘football-phase’ is enchanting for the people around me. However for me, the significance of life does not wax or wane because of a football field full of hot-and-happening players. Life is a lot more than just running around in circles!
Being a non-enthusiast of football not only makes me a laughing stock in this little locality of football-crazy Calcutta, but it also hurts my family’s pride. For my family, it is more than just difficult. Firstly, they could never comprehend why being a perfectly healthy young boy, I chose not to play a sport. It was embarrassing for them when people asked them why I was allowed to take drawing classes when I could easily while away my evenings at a cricket coaching academy. Secondly, I was a Calcuttan and I should have had football running through my veins.
Whether Premier League matches, local matches or the FIFA World Cup, I should have been ‘game’ to watch absolutely anything on football. But I did not want to. I think I was stubborn that way. I despised the hype around sporting events and the like. I thought it was unnecessary. And people thought I was mad. Some even asked my parents if I was a homosexual because disliking games was a sure sign of effeminacy! What a shame I had become to my parents only because I hated sports!
Nevertheless, life goes on. Not everyone is meant to do what society feels is right. Not everyone can be passionate about kicking a ball into the goalpost and feel an adrenaline rush during the winning goal. Not everyone feels a rush of blood to the head when he runs into a ribbon and a crowd of people break into applause. Some people find their adrenaline rush in quiet corners where they can pen down poetry in blank-verse, or take captivating photographs of the sunset. For some people, winning does not have to mean loud applause. Some people win when they find their solace in silence.
What a beautiful irony it is! I learned so much about ‘sportsmanship’ and the ‘sporting spirit’ without playing a single sport.