Before the rugby. The Six Nation Rugby Competition begins today and brings to mind the fact that we have no sports writers in this blog. A culture blog with no sports section is like a house with no roof. Nearly finished but missing a fundamental piece to make it complete.
We often think of sport as something outside our cultural framework – the topic of culture being primarily focussed on the arts; culture is art, theatre, dance…. Well. So it seems from where I sit. Sport seems to have its own individual place, its own context within our lives, separate from our daily cultural life when infact it is an inseparable part of our existence, even if we don’t follow any particular team.
For me sport is deeply ingrained into my psyche. I don’t play sport, I follow some on the box when it comes up and I have no real affiliation with any team. However, I am aware of its pull, I feel it all the time. When I’m at my wifes family home, sport, specifically hurling, seems to transcend the ordinary, it acts as a continuum of sorts, it has lineage and people refer to those around them, dead and alive, in terms of teams, they use hurling metaphors, match days and dates are burned into the mind, their terms of reference centre around the sport and so on. This is something I did not have growing up, partly because my family moved around an awful lot but more so because my parents were not into sport as such.
I do however remember getting a present of an Irish rugby jersey when i was eight years old. I didn’t know what rugby was but the jersey connected me to a tradition from my homeland (we lived abroad at the time) and that tribal connection gave me a sense of place, a sense of belonging that I hadn’t previously had (naturally these thoughts occurred to me much later. When you’re eight you’re too busy doing stuff, philosophical musing aren’t on the agenda, climbing trees are). Later when I came back to Ireland sport was my way in. It gave me instant access to a cultural pool that I could easily assimilate into.
All the emotions we associate with great art are present in every sports game, competition we watch or participate in. Emotions run high, people connect with each other in ways they never would outside that framework, that close knit community of oneness that happens when watching a match with a large body of supporters. And yes, sport often serves another purpose; a political and social purpose. Sport is used as a tool for political gain, trickery, chicanery, social unrest, religious and racial persecution. There are countless examples, to many to mention and many have left an indelible mark on our collective memory. So why, when we talk about culture do we tend to leave sport to one side and talk about it only in terms of what it is in itself when clearly it is has a deeper and more profound connection to us than most other things we touch, come across on a daily basis?
For that reason alone I ask, is anyone interested in taking up the baton and starting a sports column in this blog? Someone, please take it up, take it on. Without it we are incomplete.
And before I go just a little mention of the match, Ireland will win today against Italy, let’s hope they can do a Grand Slam double. I’m going to the pub to watch it. Join in the collective smell, joy, shouting, cursing, singing, groaning, pissing and drinking. Can’t wait. Nothing like it.
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