Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny / harrowing / interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?
I. Don’t. Do. Sport.
It might have something to do with the fact that I grew up in the country where sport dominated, literally, EVERYTHING!! if you were a boy you played footy and cricket, and if you were a girl, you played netball. If you played anything else other than that, you were still only slightly accepted, because you played a team sport, even though it was one of those woosy, pansy sports.
If you didn’t play any kind of sport at all, then you didn’t exist in society, and generally considered to be ‘one of them fucking faggots’.
Yeah… It also might have had something to do with growing up in an overwhelmingly homophobic (and highly religious) country town. Granted, that same mentality that was so anti-gay didn’t seem to have a problem with the concept of ‘kissing cousins’… Because the major families in that town were all related in some way, shape or form.
Just so we’re clear: inbreeding = yes. Homosexuality = no.
Right, moving on… It may have something to do with the fact that all through school I was forced to play sports. Granted, I always picked the role that did the absolute least, or I’d just play so incredibly badly I got sidelined for the rest of the game. If you do that enough times in a row, you end up not getting picked to play on the field. That always worked for me.
The irony was, I was actually quite good at whatever sport I was forced into. Despite how much I absolutely fucking despise football, I was actually really quite good at it. Now, when I say football, I’m talking about NRL (National Rugby League – for those of you from overseas. If you’re not sure, check out some clips on YouTube. It puts your NFL to shame, because rugby guys don’t wear all those ridiculous pads and guards). When I was a kid I excelled in athletics – in particular sprints, long jump and high jump. At one point I was even a regional champion for high jump.
So flash forward to me, the tall, skinny, (closeted) gay guy, bullied everyday of high school, who simply wanted to flip out and murder his tormentors being told we’re going to do Rugby for 6 weeks as part of our P.E. For the term.
So taking my lack of hatred for the game and pretty much every one of those fuckers on the field, I avoided the ball as much as possible, instead just wishing a plane would come crashing down on the oval killing everybody, and ending my daily life of emotional turmoil. Until I got the ball and did something wrong which meant a penalty. I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing – nobody had actually explained the game to me, it was just assumed we all knew the rules…. (See above re: sport-dominated townsfolk). So after having a little bitch-fit about it and getting a very brief ‘Rugby-101’ whilst on the field, I basically understood it as if you get the ball, just run like the fucking wind, and avoid getting the absolute living daylights beaten out of you from getting tackled.
So I did. Because I was leaner than all the hard-core rugby boys… I could actually out-run almost all of them, and slip past them. Which worked to my advantage. I got tackled a couple of times, and maybe kicked somebody in the face ‘accidentally’… (you and I both know it clearly wasn’t), but overall, I did quite well. It certainly shocked the hell out of me, but I think everybody else was more shocked than I was. I was the absolute last person they ever thought would a) survive a game of rugby, and b) actually be kinda good at it.
So anyway, I promise I’m getting to my highlight… So, there I am playing this game and doing really well, like a massive ‘fuck you!’ to everybody who was witnessing this marvel of athleticism, and so far I’d managed to score something like 4 of our 6 tries (or is it try’s?). Either way, I’d been kicking ass, and everybody on my team absolutely fucking hated the fact that I was absolutely dominating this game. Even my own team mates were hating me – um, hello… I’M HELPING YOU WIN THIS STUPID GAME!! fucking neanderthals! So, it was down to the last few minutes of the game, and we were ahead by one try, so really, we’d already won, and our team went into a huddle to discuss a game play. I go to be a part of it, and get the typical response of ‘fuck off you poofter faggot’… So I take a few steps back and just wait patiently for the secret ‘men’s club’ to finish having their wanky little meeting, and prepare to watch everything they had just planned, go right down the drain.
Sure enough it did. In a panic, somebody throws me the ball, and I just run. I see this gigantic sack of potatoes hurtling towards me, and being more concerned about wanting to avoid having my spine completely snapped from this guy tackling me, I closed my eyes and just jumped, and he dove for my waist.
I literally sailed over the top of him… as though it was all happening in super slow motion… and realised I was doing so in a grande-jete. Hello, dance training!
Me. Holding a footy. Sailing through the air in a jete. It was the perfect juxtaposition. Anyway, I landed and just kept running. Slammed the ball on the ground near the goal posts, and stood up, hands in the air, cheering to myself. WOOOO HOOOOOO!!!! I’d just scored the winning try of the game. I did it. Me. ME!! Of all the people… it was one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had. I turned around to see the rest of class down the other end of the field just staring at me.
And then the doubt kicked in.
Oh fuck. So, clearly I did something wrong. Maybe they screamed out to me, and I just didn’t hear it. Maybe I lost the game? Oh god, I lost the game, and then just cheered to myself about it. Ohhhh gaaaawwwwwd, I must look like the biggest fuckwit right now. *groan*.
So I pick up the ball, and wander back down the field feeling quite humiliated and deflated, and walk past my team mates who were still just standing there staring at me. It was a very strange moment, because nobody was actually saying anything. No ‘good job’ or ‘you’re such a dickhead’, or even ‘you stupid faggot’… nothing. I walk up to the coach and ask what’s the matter.
‘Wh..wh… what the hell do you call that?’
Oh, um, I don’t know, was I not supposed to score a try?
‘Huh? Oh, no, you won the game, son… congratulations!’
Soooo then why is everybody looking at me like I’m some kinda freak?
‘Probably because you are some kinda freak?’
‘You jumped over Daniel. You. Jumped. Over. Daniel!’ 9sidenote… Daniel was 6’1″ and build like a brick shit-house!)
Ahhh, yeah, and..?
‘AND… and that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my forty-odd years of footy. I’ve never seen anything like that. Ho… how did you do that?’
Um… I just jumped…?
‘But that thing… that jump… you like, split yourself in half, almost! You sailed through the air like it was nothing!’
Oh really? Oh, thank you! That, oh that’s just a grand-jete…
A grande-jete. It’s…um.. it’s a fancy ballet term for a leap in the air.
‘Well, whatever it is, that was just incredible!’
Thanks. So… are we done now? Now that I just won the game…!
I was kind of half-expecting there to be some kind of cheering from at least a couple of people… or even a simple ‘Congratulations’… but I got nothing. It was the WORST anti-climax ever. The one thing I do that would actually give me some kind of cred and MAYBE actually get the bullies to lay off even for just a couple of days… but no. nothing. My team mates all kinda walked off together, and the other team walked off together, and the coach and everybody else watching all walked off in a third group. I trailed behind everybody else feeling like shit for being so incredible on the field.
Whilst it was a moment I’d remember forever for such an awesome achievement, it was also a moment I’d remember forever for it being such an awesome achievement that was completely ignored by a group of at least 60 people.