The beautiful game

In this column from The Times India Knight ponders what has happened to sport in these times of sex scandals and celebrity obsession.

My personal experience of sport consists only of “games” at school — specifically lacrosse, an astonishingly vicious game that in America and Canada is played by beefy men wearing helmets and shoulder pads. In English girls’ schools you are left au naturel, shivering in your little games skirt while trying to shield your face — and the rest of you — from an incredibly hard ball, lobbed with great force and travelling at great speed. Good times.

I don’t know whether it was this especially spartan old-school introduction to the delights of running about on a muddy pitch that coloured my view of what sport was about — mens sana in corpore sano was the gist, always assuming the old mens didn’t take a direct hit from the ball — but I’ve never deviated from it, whether I’ve been watching my children play a football match or watching football on TV.

At its best, sport is about the human body doing something transcendentally brilliant, something amazingly skilful and disciplined, something occasionally breathtakingly beautiful, and in so doing bringing enormous joy to the people watching, whether they’re proud parents or a crowd of millions. It’s not about who does what to whom in a hotel bedroom or how much their wife’s hair extensions and veneers cost. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Read the rest here.

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