Sports And Gymnastics – Not For Me!

A while ago I wrote a post on my attitude to sports, which seems to have struck a chord with some of you good folk out there.  So I thought I would perhaps expand a wee bit on what I wrote, and in passing discuss my attitude to that highly refined form of torture known as gymnastics.

But to start with, to sort of set the mood as it were, I thought I would throw a couple of quotes at you that I have come across in a book I am currently dipping into at odd moments.   It is called Frank Muir Goes Into, and reasonably enough, it is written by that superb English Script writer and humorist, Frank Muir.

It consists of all manner of jokes and quotes that he has collected on a whole slew of topics, one of which is the one that interests me at this point, which is sport.

So here are some of the apposite quotes that he collected on the subject of sport……

“The need of exercise is a modern superstition, invented by people who ate too much, and had nothing to think about.  Athletics don’t make anybody either long-lived or useful”.   George Santayana.

It is a general truth that those persons who are good at games are good at nothing else.   Generally speaking, good players are but miserable and useless persons”.  Thomas Tegg (1848)

“I do not play cricket, because it requires me to assume such indecent postures”

“Football is all very well as a game for rough girls, but is hardly suitable for delicate boys”

Both Oscar Wilde.

‘The football, as it is now commonly used, with thronging of a rude multitude, with bursting of shinnes, and beaking of legges, be neither civill, neither worthy of the name of any traine to health”   Richard Melcaster – 1581

Anyhow, that gives you an idea of my feelings about organised sports.   However I do draw a distinction between professional sports and amateur, not that I will ever take part in either, but I do faintly see that there can be an attraction in chasing a ball around a field with a bunch of friends on a Saturday afternoon – slumped in a chair gazing at a match on  TV on the other hand fails to attract me to any degree.  And the idea of actually going to one of those huge stadia where professional matches happen simply scares the hell out of me.  For some years I lived near to one of the larger such stadia in London, and the animal roars that happened whenever games were played there was terrifying, and highly reminiscent of the sounds of a Nuremberg Rally.

I have managed so far, to have lived mainly happily, for about 73 years without ever taking part in any sport more than once, and have also never broken any bones,suffered any major injuries or in any other manner damaged my body as is typical of all my sport loving friends , in spite of having worked as a Roadie, been a theatre technician, built several houses and generally been very physically active for my entire life, have eaten loads of junk food, smoked dope in my younger years, smoked cigarettes from my 14th to 70th year and generally not lived according to the rules of any health gurus… and am still healthy and fit, and still building a house.

So, now for gymnastics.

When I was at a school in the UK at about the age of 10, I was introduced for the first time in my life to a gymnasium and on my first lesson in that space I was fascinated by all the equipment I was confronted with – wall bars, horses, ropes and huge hairy mats, and god knows what other things…  I can remember gazing at it all in some wonder, and also a healthy apprehension about what use I might be expected to make of all of this stuff.

Obviously all my class mates were already well used to all this gear (this was a relatively large private school,) so far most of my schooling had been in poverty stricken state schools which lacked such stuff.

Anyhow, the teacher took me under her wing and encouraged me to attempt to leap over the wooden box in the middle of the room, the idea being to sort of land in a somersault on one of those huge hairy mats.   Well I tried this, and failed miserably, hurting myself moderately as I thudded onto the ground beside the mat.

She then attempted to get me to use the wall bars, and clamber up the wall hanging onto a long rope, the idea I was given to understand, was to get reasonably high, and then to sort of leap off, hanging onto the rope and sort of swing across the room to yet another of those terrible mats…  OK…. Up I went, and that was it.  No way was I about to throw myself off the wall.   After I had clung on to those bars for about 10 minutes, she came up to me and helped me descend safely to the floor…

I thanked her gravely and walked out of that room, never to enter it again.  Simply refusing to have anything to do with it thereafter.

So that was my one and only experience in a gymnasium….   Not a source of any regret on my part I have to state categorically..  Not an activity for any sort of rational human being I felt and still think.

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