Dear Dave

Friday 15 August 2008


Dear Dave,

A friend asked me recently if the kids had watched Wimbledon at all. I had to reply that they'd only got into it once they'd realised it was a bit like Mario Tennis.

Suffice to say, they're not hugely interested in sport.

This meant I was somewhat surprised to walk into the lounge the other day and discover that Fraser had deliberately switched on the Olympics and was happily watching some canoeing. He told me in great detail about the recent scores and what was going on. I nodded and smiled. I hadn't a clue what he was wittering on about.

You see, I don't know much about sport myself. My parents have never really been ardent sports fans and we didn't talk about sport a lot while I was growing up. (Or anything much else, to be honest, but that's another story...) We only watched sport now and then on the telly - Formula One, Wimbledon, the Olympics, that kind of thing.

When I started work at LBO I had to hurriedly learn to talk about football in order to blend in during lunch in the canteen. This was problematic because, while I knew very little about English football, I knew absolutely nothing about Scottish football. Fortunately, a friend took me aside and told me the secret of survival - all I had to do was mutter Rangers, Celtic, Hibs, Hearts or Ally McCoist every so often, and someone else was bound to have plenty to say in reply.

This got me a surprisingly long way and still works to this day.

It might help Fraser's socialisation if he has more of a clue than me and I suppose the Olympics is a good place to start. There's always something happening, plenty of viewing choice and frequent excitement from world record bids. It's also, he tells me, a little like the Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game he got for Christmas...

When he heard where the 2012 games are going to be held, he was thrilled. He wants us to head down to London to watch.

I've tentatively agreed, on the basis that it's four years away and he'll probably have changed his mind by then. It's such a long time in the future, I was even relatively positive about it. I tried not to list all the limitations of going to watch the Olympics in person:
  • The view won't be as good.
  • We'll be more limited in what we get to see.
  • It'll be more expensive.
  • We'll have to leave the house.
  • We might get rained on, etc
All these things aside, we can't possibly go and see everything, so we'll have to pick some type of sporting endeavour to concentrate on. This is going to be a tricky choice since, if he becomes really interested, he might want to take part in 2020. Pick the wrong sport and I could spend years getting up at 5am, six days a week, to ferry him to some training facility or other on the dark side of the moon.

Mindful of this possibility, I need to encourage him to choose something which can be played almost anywhere, takes place inside, doesn't require much expensive equipment and involves no sharp, pointy projectiles. In order to play to his strengths, it would be preferable if the sport also avoided much athleticism, coordination or following of instructions.

I'm thinking maybe Scrabble. (Cue video montage of rigorous training. Fraser strains to repeatedly lift a small bag of tiles as I stand over him with a whip. He shuffles 'NGZMAPO' around despondently. He gets up hours before dawn to study a dictionary. He stares intently at some letters as a stopwatch ticks. Finally, in a crowded hall, he builds onto an 'A' and triumphantly lays down the last seven letters of the game to spell 'ZAMPOGNA'. His opponent, a retired colonel, queries, unaware of the Italian bagpipes. All eyes turn to the adjudicator, he checks the replay, the letters go down in slow motion, there's a pause... and then he gives the slightest nod. The crowd goes wild. The colonel has a heart attack. Fraser holds aloft the gold medal... Eye of the Tiger fades.)

Then again, maybe I should get him to consider commentating. He's already good at talking about 'our guy', reeling off stats and being excited about it all.

Truth be told, whatever he chooses for us to go see in 2012, chances are that we'll be watching most of the action on our mobile phones, complete with close-ups, replays and trivia facts. This being the case, we should pick an event that's warm, dry and near a vending machine.

Hopefully I can get him into table tennis. A couple of bats, a ball and a small net for the kitchen table and we're in business.

Or maybe that's too much like effort. We could just play it on the Wii...

Yours in a woman's world,



Anonymous said...

What do you think about the Eagles this year?
What? You don't follow American Football? But ours is the football that has nothing to do with feet!

Ah well...

Oh- he should do curling. I know it's a winter sport but it's probably the best. A lot of standing around and very little physical. Plus his hand-eye skillz will be amazing from all the video games he plays. He's already got an edge on the compitition.

DadsDinner said...

I find the best way to distract American sports fans is to ask them what they think of this year's rule changes. That usually gives me several hours to edge away and escape out a window.

As for curling, that's a freaky suggestion - his Granpa plays and would probably love to teach him. As a bonus, Sprog1 would learn how to use a broom...