Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Americans will never understand our sport because they're not pessimists like we are

American publisher wants to know what I mean by "digging out an away point". Fair cop. It's a book about music after all.

American journalist on New Yorker podcast says it wasn't until he lived in Britain that he heard and understood the expression "a result"

In "Fever Pitch" Nick Hornby says something like "the natural state of a football supporter is disappointment, no matter what the score".

There's something in all three thoughts that points up the role sport performs in this rainy little country. We are pessimists by culture and disposition. The best we can hope for in sporting encounters is they don't make us feel worse.

This is nothing to do with whether the team's any good or not. I have a New Zealander friend who simply can't bear to follow the All-Blacks in the Rugby World Cup because so much of himself is bound up in their winning that he couldn't bear the idea of them losing.

This may be coincidence but it rains a lot in New Zealand too.


  1. I'm in Hepworth podcast heaven this week on the tube, Dave. Not only two new Word in your ear podcasts but a guest appearance on the Spurs Show as well. No chance of you turning up on Criminal is there?

  2. Cricket leaves them cold. 'You play for five days and it's still a draw?'

  3. Leaves me cold too for exactly that reason

  4. Horses for courses as always. I like football and cricket and played both. As a teenager I spent more hours on the snooker table than is good for anyone and still love the game.

    My brother loves sport in general and football in particular. At one time he was on the trek to visit every ground in the country. I don’t think he made it, but he’s been to a hell of a lot. Our brother is indifferent. He’ll watch a game of some sort once in a while, but isn’t too fussed.

    The professional games leave me cold. And the pundits make me vomit.

    As for only enjoying the game if “our” team wins, I just think that’s sad. Nice to win, of course, but if that’s all we’re after, I think we’re missing a lot. The essentials, in fact.

  5. Anonymous1:47 pm

    I have a theory that Americans have a curious insecurity about their place in the world for a country of such resources and achievement.

    They wrestle with their place on the global stage - in many respects probably like the British Empire circa 1900. Which in retrospect we can now see was very much on the decline against cyclical forces - compare US recent status and decline with the emerging east.

    Anyway, back to sport. It fascinates me that their big sports (American Football - particularly, Baseball, Basketball and to a lesser extent perhaps Ice Hockey) are only played by and between themselves. They do not like to compete against other nations against which they may lose. Hence the resistance towards the one truly global sport of Football (not, never, soccer).

    They also only like fast scoring sports - no attention span you see.

    Also, I understand anecdotally individuals like Michael Johnson are much more highly regarded here than there - we "get" the Olympics in a way they don't.

    Now don't get me on their blind adherence to a 250 year old constitution and their quaint notion of what constitutes an "uber left wing politician" i.e. a liberal to us.