I much prefer to watch Rugby, although I will concede that football is a far more attractive game per se. Where football can be graceful and even artistic, Rugby is brutal and slow. It's the difference between hitting a tennis ball and pushing a concrete block across a ploughed field, between riding a lightweight bike down a twisty road and driving a concrete mixer.
As a game to watch, football ought to win hands down. And yet I can't stand it - at least the big-money, televised version. I have stood in the cold and watched children's matches and village derbies and had a thoroughly good time. So what is it about the professional game that puts me off?
"Whut I do, ref?"
For me, it's the cry-baby whinging and the foot-stamping and the theatricals. Any mildly physical challenge in the penalty area, and the player will dive dramatically to the ground, roll over fourteen times clutching his ankle, and come to rest with a look of a crucified Christ on his face. From the visual evidence, the man is close to death, or at least a potential amputation and a long stay in hospital, and the opponent who so cruelly slashed him down is guilty of attempted murder at the very least. Once the penalty is awarded, the dead man is back on his feet, a token limp for the first three steps, and then he is back in the game, job done.
Some grand examples here. Some of them even twitch after the injury, as if they had damaged their central nervous system and were in the last throes of brain death:
When I learned the rules of football back in the Victorian era, the idea was that you played the ball, not the man, but as long as you were playing the ball, there was no foul, even if the guy fell over. Whatever happened to that bit of common sense?
When I see football, all I see is a bunch of massively-overpaid pansies (with names like Fibreglass and Cnxwgt and Alfonsiño) who can't play a simple physical game without bending the rules, playing for sympathy and gaming the referee. Why would I waste my time watching that? For some reason, this kind of thing is incredibly rare in Rugby. Players get smashed into like they have walked in front of a train, they get up, grin and carry on. If there is serious physical damage, a man comes on with a staple gun and MIG welder, and patches them up. I'm tempted to say that Rugby is a game for proper men, and footbal is for vain, over-rewarded poofs , so I will say it.
Over at Julia's place, she has a post on a similar theme, which made me think that this attitude is not confined to professional sport, but has worked its way into the whole of society. From the Mail, the story of a teacher who was 'forced' (always that word) to raise her voice in the classroom because of the noise of a nearby playground, developed problems with her throat and was 'forced' to resign. She sued her employers, and has been awarded £156,000 compensation.
The 50-year-old says she now struggles to speak on the phone and suffers a sore throat and hoarseness when she raises her voice in noisy bars.As an ex-teacher with 18 years' classroom experience, I have a couple of observations:
Mrs Walters, who taught for 12 years, won a total of £156,000 in out-of-court settlements from her council after claiming she could never teach again.
- If the background noise was so great (both in volume and duration) as to make her damage her vocal cords, then surely her pupils would have suffered similar damage to their hearing. And if this went on over 12 years, why was this serious health risk not brought to the attention of the authorities much sooner?
- Any experienced teacher will tell you that a loud teacher is a bad teacher. We've all heard the screeching from a nearby classroom as Miss Binks tries to get control of 3Z. The occasional use of a loud voice is often necessary, but if it goes on over a whole lesson, you have to ask why. Was this never picked up in inspections and assessments?
Joanne Jefferies, a specialist in workplace injuries at law firm Irwin Mitchell who represented Mrs Walters, added: ‘Despite attempts to raise her concerns with her employer, she was ignored and it has resulted in this terrible, life-altering injury.
As Julia points out, a "terrible, life-altering injury" is the loss of a limb, or permanent disablement, or brain injury - not a sore throat. But the news is full of people who stub their toe, and then claim that they will never work again because of the pain and the disability. We are invited to feel sorry - ££££-worth of sorry - for people who have suffered things that most people shrug off as a minor inconvenience. The lawyers plead, the judges nod, and the claimant gets more cash than they know what to do with - paid for by the rest of us, in one way or another.
I despise this attitude, and it's why I hate football too. Stub your toe, cry to mummy about how it's so unfair, get a sweetie, and run off to play in the sunshine. Why can't we just grow up?
It's a attitude skewered very well by Michael Bywater in his excellent book Big Babies, which I recommend to you.
 Poofs, as in lily-livered Fotherington-Thomases, not as in people of a homosexualist persuasion. I couldn't care less what they get up to in the changing room. Just so you know.