Where Have you been all my life?

“Passion Unites Us All.”

This is the tag-line that Sport Chek is “sporting” in their ad campaign for UEFA’s 2012 Euro Cup. Frankly, I couldn’t give two sweet shits about Sport Chek, or their advertising agenda, but this particular motto got me thinking…

I have never been sporty. In fact, those closest to me would, (and often do) laugh at the prospect of me participating in any kind of organized athletic activity. I was that person in elementary school that always got picked last for any given sports team in gym class because truth be told, (and I am not afraid to admit it), I was more of a liability than an asset. I may be able to paint a picture, take a photograph, or write an essay, but kick a ball?! In that net… over there… with my foot?! NO WAY JOSE!

This doesn’t however mean that I don’t have a healthy inquisitiveness and interest in what it means to enjoy professional sports. The  actual score in this sense has always meant less to me than the anthropology of it all. There are many happenings in this world that unite individuals into larger collectives, and the phenomenon of sport is no exception. Cheering for a team lends a common ground to people from all strata of social life, and I experienced this recently as I sat with a friend at Toronto’s new Queen West pub The Dog and Bear.

Of course said friend was very patient to sit and explain the rules of the game of soccer to me during the play between England and France. Yes, that’s right, I know nothing of the regulations and game play behind soccer, hockey, football, tennis, golf, and the list goes on… But as I soaked in the sights around me: Half- drunk soccerphiles cheering, jeering, and spilling draft beer, there was a certain je ne sais quoi in the air… These people; strangers, friends, and family alike, all had one very distinctive thing in common; they were all there to support with a passionate solidarity, a team.

I have always understood the importance of collectives; collective understandings, opinions, and enjoyments, but yesterday was probably the first real time I had actually considered this value  in terms of sports. Team mentality and sportsmanship is not only extremely precious in what it means to be human, especially in a world so vast and oftentimes isolating, but it is fun. In our crazy and fast-paced world it is necessary from time to time to forget all about the daily developments and drama of our lives, and focus instead on something entertaining, and relatively meaningless to the bigger picture. This is in large part how we meet and make friends, and build a solid foundation of commonality amongst our fellow homosapiens. It is not very often that I feel like I am missing out, or have missed out, but I must admit that while sitting in the pub, and soaking in by proxy the enjoyment had by those there to support their respective teams, I realized that I have been missing out on a major type of human camaraderie; namely sports fan camaraderie.

Instead of playing sports, I spent most of my life fostering a creative energy, aka I was always known to be more artsy-fartsy than outdoor sporty. It is only now, after having spent so much time missing out on the pure, unadulterated fun of sports, that I realize how I need to re-adjust my framework for understanding the phenomenon. Can’t it be posited that sports fit into the category of art? The field, the rink, the court, the green represents the canvas, and the player is the medium; their achievements through skill represent the ‘art’ or ‘beauty’ of their creativity. A fine artist may use a paintbrush and oil paint to bring to life a portrait of a lover, the Grand Canyon, or a bowl of fruit, and we call this art. A chef will use his or her knowledge of food, flavours, and chemistry to create a delectable piece of edible artwork. A musician uses notes, a photographer uses light, a writer uses words, and the list goes on. In sports, we – the viewers and the fans – are the ones that through our sensory acknowledgment and appreciation of the rules of the game, allow the athlete and what they do to become an artform.

Love him or hate him, the gifted Cristiano Ronaldo is an artist of soccer:

How have I spent twenty-six years of my life overlooking this type of experience!?

I may never take up any particular sport, I may not become an MVP, but certainly it is not too late to learn the rules of a game; get involved in the team support mentality, and bat and banter about scores, and plays, and fouls, and bull-shit calls (okay, okay I promise to work on my lingo!), with the best of them, right? I want to be one of those individuals that looks forward to major sporting events. And not because I am trying to play it cool, or look like that ‘girl that likes things that boys like’ (gender stereotyping oh my!), but because I actually want to be a part of something, an event, that brings people together on such a major scale. I want to realize and appreciate the culture behind a form of art previously unfamiliar to me. When it comes to sports, I want to be united by passion.

So if someone asks me what I have done of interest lately, I will say that yesterday, on June 11th 2012, I finally learned to like sports… And it all happened with a good friend, in a great pub atmosphere, with lots of fellow fans, and soccer!

GO ENGLAND!

- Sylvia “Give-Her-the-Chance-and-She’ll-Score-in-Her-Own-Net” Stout.

Where To Watch the 2012 Euro Cup? BlogTO and The Globe and Mail weigh in!

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