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Time to get some strawberries and think of Wimbledon

As is customary on these occasions, I would like to express the hope that it will be over quickly, and that everybody loses.

Seriously, though, if the British were serious about Brexit, they would stop playing and following this ridiculous and offensive round ball game that is so beloved of continental Europeans and Latin American thugocracies, and which in recent times has sold itself to the highest bidders in Russia and the Middle East, no matter how odious and disgusting. If you actually understood and realistically wanted to join the Anglosophere, you would disdain it. Certainly we in the rest of the English speaking world would have more respect for you if you did.

(Yes, I know you invented it. That’s not remotely the point).

21 comments to Time to get some strawberries and think of Wimbledon

  • We are the origins of the Anglosphere and don’t have to ‘join’ it. 🙂

    If we invented tennis (did we?), then we have the right to provide a hyper-unpartisan audience who know everyone British will lose so they can choose who to cheer for without nationalism. (OK, Tim Henman was a blip on that, but I suspect we will be returning to form. 🙁 )

    It is normal for television to be boring. Consider the advantages when most of it is about the same thing: you know beforehand how boring it will be. Also, people watch too much television; think how much you can achieve when you don’t even have to take a minute to verify there’s nothing on before devoting your time to something worthwhile – blogging on samizdata for instance!

    Consider how annoying it is for the eurocrats to know that after Brexit, Wimbledon will still be in the UK, the UK having failed to sink beneath the waves on its departure. 🙂

    In short (breaks into song) “Always look on the sunny side of life” (especially when rain stops play).


  • pete

    Fixtures out today.

    City are away at Arsenal on the opening day.

    Only 17 days until we can say that the season starts next month.

  • Snorri Godhi

    It’s not just Europeans and Latin Americans who go crazy about the World Cup — though i cannot understand why. I much prefer watching tennis, or the World’s Strongest Man competition.

    OK, if Iceland or Denmark do well, i might get enthusiastic about the World Cup.
    England might also get my support (for what it’s worth), due to cultural affinity and it being the home team of so many at Samizdata; but being the home country of Eddie Hall should be a more important source of pride.

  • lowlylowlycook

    Wait, the UK isn’t joining the US in our boycott of the Russian World Cup?

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Only very reasonable comments here. Pity. I was hoping someone would thoroughly denounce me.

    Niall: My understanding is that the invention of tennis was a combined effort between the French and the English. Possibly this is why the game is still played a little differently in the two countries – the French preferring clay courts and the English grass. This is good, because I think the different surfaces make tennis a much more interesting game than it would be if it was played on the same surface everywhere.

    Once upon a time Australian players dominated tennis, but now our attitude to it is more like the English. The sport is still hugely popular and Australians still play it socially in huge numbers – my mother had an injury a few years back that meant she was no longer able to play tennis and she was quite unhappy about this. She was 74 years old at the time. The Australian Open is one of the highlights of the Australian sporting calendar in the way that Wimbledon is here, and the sport’s governing body is very wealthy – hosting a Grand Slam tournament is enormously lucrative. However, our players don’t win any more.

  • bobby b

    “Only very reasonable comments here. Pity. I was hoping someone would thoroughly denounce me.”

    Always willing to pick up the slack, I am.

    There’s sport, and then there’s sitting on your butt watching sport. Let’s make sure to distinguish between the two.

    Growing up in south LA, where nobody had money, we couldn’t play those fancy-pants games where land had to be set aside and marked and netted for two or (rarely) four people to use their expensive swatting equipment in contest with funny little fuzzy balls.

    Cricket or baseball? Where two people play while the rest of the mob stand in specified places waiting for something maybe to happen? Booooooring.

    American football? With marked fields and helmets and shoulderpads and thighpads and cups and one-purpose balls and 150-page rulebooks? Great for parents who want their kids to learn structure, but you can’t really call it “playing”, plus it doesn’t lend itself to impromptu gatherings of rambunctious kids.

    So (when we weren’t playing Run From La Migra) we’d all gather in one of the dry canals feeding Los Angeles, someone would bring some roughly round bouncy object – sometimes even a real soccer ball – we’d pick teams, and everyone would exhaust themselves and their talents all at once. Didn’t have to take turns, didn’t have to argue about strikes and balls or wickets or whatever the hell you call that funny thing you knock off the wickets or whatever. Scorekeeping is simple, none of this “love-whatever” crap and getting fifteen points for one – one! – score. It’s just “we got three in yours, you got two in ours, ha, we win!”

    The other games are more entertaining to spectate at, I’ll grant you that. Perhaps a few of them are truly more fun for the landed gentry who can afford them. But there’s one game that everyone can play, anywhere, no matter your numbers or training or skill level or resources. People watch what they’ve played. Everyone without their own backyard tennis court or Daddy’s old school willow bat has played soccer, so they all watch soccer. And drink and argue and fight, because we’re not so refeened as y’all.


  • James Strong

    Football truly is a beautiful game.

    Put a football in front of a toddler and see what happens. He might try to pick it up, sure, but it’s at least just as likely that he will kick it.

    The beauty of the game as a game is not sullied by the behaviour of FIFA.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Interesting comment from bobby b.
    In Europe (or much of Western Europe, at least), soccer football is seen pretty much the way he sees it: as a working-class sport. I read somewhere that soccer is a game designed for gentlemen and played by hooligans, while rugby is a game designed for hooligans and played by gentlemen … but my understanding was that it’s different in the US (and maybe Canada): I thought that, over there, soccer is indeed a game for the soccer-mom class. Apparently i was wrong, or not entirely right.

    I myself played soccer as a kid, but hated it because the other kids always tried to put me into the other team, and with good reason.
    Nowadays, my main objection to it is that it is too difficult to score a goal: i expect more excitement from a spectator sport.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . but my understanding was that it’s different in the US (and maybe Canada) . . .”

    I think you’re more correct than not on this – it depends on where you grew up.

    In LA, I was the white kid, and probably one of the very few legal citizens. Didn’t really speak English until I was eight or nine – we all spoke Spanglish. Most everyone there brought their Mexican habits to the USA with them, and so they played futbol.

    Soccer only became popular here as a kid’s sport maybe twenty or thirty years ago, when people realized that, in typical American sports, most everyone stood around or sat on a bench watching a few people participate, while in soccer everyone could play.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Make Britain Australia again!

  • bobby b

    “Yes, I know you invented it. That’s not remotely the point.”

    Are you speaking to a French person? If so, you’re correct. (“Tenez” – “take heed” – spoken as the server served.)

    Slightly OT, if you enjoy reading a genius’s ruminations about tennis (and maybe Roger Federer), then I cannot recommend strongly enough my favorite NYT article of all time – “Roger Federer as Religious Experience” by David Foster Wallace.

  • JC

    OMG! Is that Fresh paint? Can I help you watch it dry?

  • I suspect that Michael would feel differently about football if the Australians and North Americans didn’t suck at it.
    I have real antipathy towards people who change the rules of an established game just to make it more “exciting” for people who know fuck-all about the sport, e.g. cricket. The ODI and T20 formats are nothing other than smashball — there’s no subtlety, no strategy and frankly, it’s just as well that the matches are over quickly because OMG Teh Excitement!!!!
    Bah. Give me a five-day ordeal which tests [sic] the temperament of the players, their skills, their endurance and their strategy against a similar group of athletes, where the tension ebbs and flows, where suspense builds to a massive crescendo — or changes completely with a well-bowled ball or a tremendous six… aaaahhh, now that’s a sport, not that slam-bam nonsense.
    Basically, when the rules of a game are changed to make it more exciting, the overseers of the sport are trying to make the thing more attractive for those who either don’t care about it or just plain hate it.
    Football’s rules are among the simplest of any modern team sport, and they don’t need changing. There are some technical issues (e.g. timekeeping) which could use a little modernising, but otherwise it’s just fine. Leave it alone, and if it bores you, go back to Fortnite. I hear that’s quite exciting.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Tennis has had its day in the sun. American football is being driven into insignificance by Political Correctness. Soccer (to give football its proper name) remains a fine game for pre-pubescent girls. The world is moving on; what will be the sport of the future?

    On a recent overseas trip, I happened to wander into a bar packed with people from the Sub-Continent watching an Indian cricket tournament. Cricket — the game the English invented to teach themselves the meaning of boredom! But in Indian hands, it was all action — even down to fireworks and lithesome cheerleaders. Cheerleaders? In cricket??

    Moving on, the bar across the street was showing a handball competition, where Australia and then New Zealand were sent home by various Arab teams. Handball? Like soccer, only handling the ball with hands instead of feet, and played on a smaller indoor court with smaller teams. Fast moving; exciting, even without cheerleaders. Maybe handball will be the next big thing in spectator sport?

  • Henry Cybulski

    Snorri: it’s difficult to score a goal in ice hockey as well, but the pace of the game is something else, with back and forth action and 30 shots on net roughly for each team. (And by shots on net, I mean shots that would have gone in if they hadn’t been stopped by the goal tender, not those merely directed somewhere towards the goal.) Can’t beat it for the action.

    Having said that, I like snooker as well.

  • Jacob

    Football (soccer) is the most beautiful and intricate game, to play AND to watch. Football is looked down upon by the Aristocrats – it’s too difficult for them, too tiring – you have to run fast all the time. Tennis is much easier, physically. Football, as bobby_b said, is easy to arrange and play – just any number of kids can play, on any place. You just need a ball and even that isn’t indispensable (we once used a piece of wood to kick around). It’s the game of the proles, but with the beauty and delicacy of ballet.

    In short, Michael, seems you had a sad, deprived youth (not playing football).

  • Alisa

    I am going to denounce you for not trashing all sports-watching – you are welcome.

  • Jacob

    Sports is the only thing worth watching on TV.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Henry: quite right, number of shots on target is more important than number of goals; and ice hockey is fast paced and exciting … or that was my impression after watching a game; but bobby has a point, that you have to play a game before you can really enjoy watching it, and i never played ice hockey. I can skate, though; badly enough to marvel at the skill of hockey players.

    And speaking of having to play a game before you can appreciate it:

    Tennis is much easier [than soccer], physically.

    Obviously, Jacob has never played tennis.
    But i admit that playing tennis doubles is probably less intense than playing soccer as the Dutch and the Brazilians play it. Not the way the Italians play soccer, though.


    I am going to denounce you for not trashing all sports-watching

    Come on: who doesn’t like watching strongmen pulling a 45 ton airplane??

  • Alisa

    There is nothing worth watching on TV – I know, because I have not been watching it for the past 6 years.

  • Michael Jennings

    I suspect that Michael would feel differently about football if the Australians and North Americans didn’t suck at it.

    Well, this is circular. If Australians (and North Americans) took soccer as seriously as they take some of the sports they do take seriously, they would not suck at it. If they did not suck at it, they might take it more seriously.

    Growing up in a working class town in Australia, I was brought up to despise it. If I had not been brought up this way, well, I might feel otherwise. Where I was brought up, the sport played by real men was rugby league. I possibly am a traitor to my upbringing anyway, because of all the sports people call football, the one I prefer watching is Australian Football, which is actually played on the other side of the Barassi Line.