Offside from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Offside Memories from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?


In my schooling years PE or Physical Education was a nightmare for me, all agony and no ecstasy. Forced physical activity seemed to me mightily unjust and somehow low IQ. Besides, all the business in the locker rooms, changing, smelly feet smells, dampness, (images of mold crowded into my mind), showers and so forth were like a universe from an existentialist horror, like The Myth of Sisyphus, forever toiling with a heavy burden, meaningless uphill, uphill, an acute awareness of self, the silliness of the rituals, the profound discomfort of group change rooms, even if single sexed. I always somehow felt vulnerable and exposed, disjointed, an alien in a land whose symbols were readable but nauseating and absurd.

Swimming lessons were the horror of horrors, (very little teaching actually happened). The fear was almost numbing. I experienced near drowning several times and once, I was washed out to sea with my younger sister, she clung to me, flailing around and pushing me under – luckily we were rescued, or rather, she was taken from me and taken to shore, while I struggled to swim back in the best way I could fashion. I was forced to learn to swim since I had asthma and it was felt to be necessary to develop my lungs. Well, all I can remember is many experiences of going under and swallowing water, water shooting up my nose into my sinuses causing blinding headaches. Every week I was a drowning girl.

Watching sport too gives me no joy and I must be the only South African who cares not about the score or who is playing whom, nor what sport is the current national fever. This is a language I prefer not to understand. The socially sanctioned male touching and grappling is however, interesting from a social and psychological point of view. It seems that physical activity for men is a necessary and possibly good outlet for excess energy and aggression produced by testosterone. Actually, after my divorce I vowed not to watch sport again, since my ex used to watch anything and everything live, at all hours of the day or night. Sport commentators have a way of droning on that gets under my skin. What joy it is to live in this sport free world, free too of the accouterments of the social rituals that accompany sport watching, especially the drinking and “braaing”. The possible only exceptions would be tennis or extreme sports like rock climbing, or sedate horse riding.

I did learn some martial art, JKD. This was liberating on many levels. It was profound for me to learn how to make a fist and to punch, to learn grappling and some self-defense skills. How strange it was at first, to make a fist for punching. Also, playing around with Brett’s Samurai sword was great fun, until I almost cut off my foot, while chopping at bougainvillea how easily the sword sailed through the vines, oops a bit too easily, foot in the way.

Today I am happy in the bliss of my offsideness and ignorance.

Image of Carol Knox and Brett Pelser courtesy Carol Knox.



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