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Taking sides

2 years ago

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Henry Catchpole | Journalist


30 December 2021

The coffee machine has only just been unpacked after moving house, which tells you how early on in proceedings I am. Consequently I haven’t got around to putting books on shelves and so I don’t yet know where my anthology of Bernard Darwin musings is, other than in one of several boxes. So it’s with apologies to the great golf writer (and yes, grandson of Charles) that I lay out these ramblings, because it was an article he wrote some time in the first half of the 20th century that triggered these thoughts…

As the fireworks blossomed over the Yas Marinas circuit and Max led Lewis home to claim his first F1 World Championship I, along with many others around the world, raised my voice. Really quite loudly too. Ecstatic or enraged? It doesn’t matter. Were my fists clenched in order to punch the air with delight or thump a table with frustration? It’s not relevant. It just tells you that I had chosen a side to support.

It’s funny but also wonderful that sport can drive us to such extremes of emotion. We sit on sofas or in grandstands, teetering on the edge of seats, at times almost unable to watch these actions of no real consequence unfold. Leaving aside the matter of money for a moment, these artificial approximations of war are manufactured so that humans can pit themselves against one another in demonstrations of skill largely for the gratification of those on the sidelines. Perhaps at grass roots the greatest satisfaction is reaped by those taking part, but certainly in the upper echelons it is the emotions of those spectating that are held most highly aloft.

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