Sporting Classes

February 15, 2010

Today, I watched England beat Italy in the Six Nations, now I don’t really know anything about rugby, but I’m reliably informed that the beating of Italy is a fairly common occurrence.  Now, it may well have been because I’d just eaten a particularly glorious Sunday lunch, but I found myself falling asleep in front of the box. There could be lots of reasons for this, but I think the main one is that I find rugby boring to almost super-natural degree.

However, I managed to watch most of the match and, By God! It was the most tedious sporting event it has been my displeasure to witness, but again, I’m sure that’s more to do with my almost total ignorance of the sport. But why do I have almost no knowledge of rugby? Well, it’s simple; I never really played it at school.

School plays a massive part in our collective sporting development and the schools that you go to largely determine the sports you play. Now I went, like Mike, to a fairly bog-standard Comprehensive school and if my memory serves me correctly, the only sport we seemed to play was…football (nothing wrong with that by the way, but some variety would have been nice). Occasionally, we forayed into other sports, Hockey got an airing a few times and numerous athletic pursuits were also attempted, but by and large, football ruled our PE roost.

Our school never attempted to teach us other sports such as Cricket or Tennis, and why would it? Football was easy to play and compared to rugby, was comparatively injury free, cricket required the use of a lot of specialist equipment, which our school simply couldn’t justify spending the money on. Of course, our school had it easy; we hadn’t sold our playing field to developers.  It’s a tragedy that it seems the only schools that have the equipment to play with; the skilled staff and the fields to play these sports on are the fee paying ones. While Mike is right to say that access to football matches has been taken from the common man, I’d contend that the entire sport of cricket has been taken from him too.

There’s no doubt that if a young person wishes to play cricket or rugby, then they have to do something “extra”, maybe joining an after school club or attaching themselves to an amateur team. But that doesn’t seem quite fair to me, doesn’t the school have a responsibility to its pupils to present a varied sporting palette?