Harry Tattersall Smith
If you wake up this morning, step out into the rain and think, “well yes I know I’m getting wet but think about that poor Glasgow University Guardian sports writer. Whilst I understand that my momentary discomfort is, well, discomforting, I’m sure that this rain is playing havoc with their scheduling programme. I wonder if they will be forced into filling the space by writing a frivolous and tenuously linked article on weather and sports?”
If you are thinking this then get out of my mind.
But I am going to use this brief relapse in all things sporting to make a serious hypothesis. Our soppy reaction to rain is why we are such damp squibs when it comes to sporting accolades. Not that I’m complaining. The cancellations have saved me hours of standing in gale-force winds and horizontal rains trying to take notes on women’s lacrosse whilst my scraggily piece of paper rapidly disintegrates, and with ink so far removed from legible writing that it starts to look like a Rorschach test.
Yet my selfish desire for warmth and home comforts aside, the cancellations do represent one of the aspects that is so inherently wrong with sport in this country: our readiness to quit when things get difficult. The nations that are annoyingly good at sport ingrain an attitude of ‘play at whatever the costs’ into their youngsters from year dot. From the moment beady-eyed parents catch their future world champion fooling around with sporting implements there are simultaneous reactions. First, a chance to live vicariously through this prodigy — incidentally the exploitative, pushy approach to parenting is one that I intend fully on adhering to as I turn my child into a winner — and second, kerching…
The concept of ‘play at all costs’ is perhaps best exemplified by our neighbours across the pond. Let’s look at American football. The rules state that conditions for a game to be abandoned must be to such an extreme extent that the players lives are in danger. Essentially we are talking weather of biblical proportions before the players are sent for an early bath. Here we just need the slightest drizzle before we’re getting the health and safety brigade crawling out of some humourless hole and the players are sent scampering off, sniffling with the sheepish airs of naughty school boys.
Anyhow, a bit of rain has the ability to turn sport into Shakespeare. Some people might say that death is the great leveller, but if you want sporting drama then chuck in tyrannical weather conditions and it can turn even the seemingly invincible into the run of the mill pub enthusiast. The immortal scenes of Hereford beating the mighty Newcastle in the FA cup are synonymous with Ronnie Radford, caked in mud, arms aloft being chased through the torrential rain, across the boggy pitch, by the adoring faithful who had invaded it.
Our very own Tim ‘Tiger’ Henman was infamously defeated in Wimbledon’s ‘raingate’. Henman looked odds-on to beat the wildly eccentric and erratic wild card Goran Ivanisevic in their classic semi-final before the heavens opened over SW19. A match repeatedly interrupted saw Henman choke under the pressure of Henmania, and the rejuvenated Croat surge to victory in what many describe as the greatest upset in tennis history.
Anyhow, in next week’s ‘excuse column for why Britain is rubbish at sport’, Glasgow Guardian looks at global warming…