The weekend I left University for good, I instantly sought some kind of structure to which I could cling. Fortunately, by the Monday, one shining pathway displayed itself effortlessly before me; a guide towards sanity. That pathway was green and white, meticulously well kept, smelt of strawberries, and led to the face of Sue Barker(and her endless array of generally pallid two piece suits.) Boris Becker’s narrow eyed, mouth pursed expression gave me confidence that here were two secure weeks in which, when at my most disorientated, I could guarantee a spot of Wimbledon would be on the box.
This is not a piece solely about the joys of Wimbles, however, or indeed an in-depth analysis of the varying developing relationships between its pundits (although I must mention right now McEnroe and Borg’s annual, nostalgic love-in, arms round each other pre-final on centre court, never fails to amuse). Rather, I aim to acknowledge and advocate the countless benefits of watching sport as a whole.
Perhaps this week is not exactly the best time to write on such a topic as I am feeling particularly delicate following the recent defeat of my most beloved sportsman, Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final. Yet despite this deep, unbearable despair in which I am currently ensconced, it is this incitement of such extreme feeling which repeatedly draws me back to watching tennis, whether it have a successful, happy ending (preferably also ending in marriage to said player) or even one of failure. It is the emotional rollercoaster provoked through engaging with sport as a whole which I celebrate most strongly. Watching sport, something beyond our control, can provide a necessary outlet for emotion, perhaps transferred from other aspects of life, which has even been proven to act cathartically for a person’s mental health as a whole. For many, its test on one’s emotions and loyalty often renders it a kind of reassuring faith.
Further still, for me sport gives life a sort of... momentum. Anticipating the next event on the calendar, especially for those interested in a number of different kinds, means there is barely a barren week in life. It is equally sport’s ability to constantly surprise which further excites. So often when watching television programmes and films, events in the proceeding scene, the next line to be said or indeed the baddie of the piece can be predicted all too easily. The joy of sport, however, is no matter what the ‘expert’ pundits, admittedly at times somewhat excessively, predict, one can never be certain of the eventual outcome. It is refreshing.
There is such a thrill in finding myself on the edge of my seat, peeking through fingers as the penalty spot is approached, the starter gun goes off, or that tentative birdie putt is taken. For that one moment, every inch of me is entirely focused, willing (or for enemies of my favourites, rather harshly I confess, not willing) the competitors on. Especially fun is finding even the apparently quietest of friends and family members suddenly animated in a way you never knew they could be, shouting at the television. This sometimes proves as entertaining as viewing the sporting event itself. With this is mind, and at the horrifying (but inevitable)risk of sounding overly mawkish, it is equally the togetherness created by a major sporting event that is so important. Those who have never shown the slightest interest in football, once every four years, can sometimes be found sharing in patriotic chants, ‘sporting’(haw haw) flags and becoming interested in the innumerable ‘stats’ proffered...or at least succeed in pretending to do so in order to humour the rest of us enthusiasts.
With its countless benefits, I can never endorse the pursuit of watching sport enough. Having said this, I in no way, however, suggest more people should pursue Rafael Nadal. Hands off.