I am totally useless at all sports. I was useless at school and I’m useless now. I once, not that long ago, got invited to a picnic with a ‘fun’ game of rounders. I thought ‘maybe I’ll be ok at it now’ and joined in only to find that I could not run, catch, bat or throw. Not only was I horribly awful, the woman they put behind me was really good meaning that I had to try to run right round as soon as she batted (the first time) or got run out (every subsequent time). This was not ‘fun’ and in fact gave me ‘Nam style flashbacks to school netball matches where I would run around, really trying my best, to a soundtrack of “at least try to catch it”, “don’t throw it to her”, “pass it”, “run faster” etc.
Despite all this I unwittingly found myself playing volleyball on Bridlington beach recently because my friend thought it would be ‘fun’ and it would keep the kids entertained for a while in a manner that didn’t require us to throw money into a machine. Here we go again I thought (I hadn’t even brought my Zumba-grade Tena Lady or my defensive I-can’t-possibly-do-sports-in-these-flip-flops flip flops), this is going to be embarrassing.
But do you know what, it was ok and do you know why it was ok? Because we were all as crap as each other. We could barely serve, we struggled to get more than 4 consecutive touches (and 3 of those were from the same team trying to get it over the net), if the ball didn’t come vaguely towards where we were standing we didn’t bother to run or jump for it and the greatest distances travelled were plodding off to retrieve the ball from our miss-aimed shots miles away from where anyone was standing.
But I really enjoyed it!
We were all still moving around, we were incredibly amused by our collective lack of athleticism and nobody was screaming “get it”, “run faster”, “jump higher” because we didn’t care. Nobody won (which meant nobody lost), nobody felt humiliated and nobody feigned injury to be excused (though I did feel like I’d been run over by a bus for around a week afterwards).
It got me thinking. I always wondered whether one day I would find a sport that I was good at but maybe I shouldn’t be looking for a sport I’m good at, I should be looking for people who are equally as awful as me?
We could start a club for crapthletes (crap athletes). You can only join if you’re truly terrible and promise not to try too hard. You must have no desire to win and must never criticise a fellow crapthlete for their lack of ability. Any touch of the ball is a cause for celebration and the rules are, there ain’t no rules.
PS We’ll go to the pub after every ‘training’ session too in order to nurture our crapthlete physiques.