A Life Without Amateur Sport
With Amateur Sport off the table for the forseeable future, Rob Hunt, James Bagby and Nick Powell look at what has been missing in a life without Amateur Sport
You aren’t as fit as you think you are, Rob Hunt
One thing has to be made clear: football isn’t a hobby or a game, it’s a way of life. Professional football being postponed is already enough to make you cry, so why not top it off by cancelling Sunday league? This may sound dramatic, but amateur sport means so much more than many people think.
As a student, amateur sport is particularly important for a few reasons. Firstly, student life is spent eating questionable meals and drinking questionable quantities. This may not sound healthy, and that’s because it isn’t, and football is the only thing for many students that actually exercises them. Going from playing a match wherever I could find one, at least a 6-a-side and an 11-a-side a week, to doing what feels like less than nothing does take its toll. A, quite frankly, terrible example of this was illustrated to me clear as day last week when I was challenged to a 5km run to raise money for the NHS. No problem I thought, I play football or at least I have done for the last two years, I’ve only been out of the game a fortnight or so, I’ll be fine.
I was not fine.
Just under 40 minutes later, I’m dry heaving in a bush and wondering where it all went wrong.
The point I’m trying to make is that, while I was never under the illusion that 90 minutes a week at centre half for Grecian Soc made me Mo Farah, even missing the little sport that students do in a month does have a massive impact. Amateur sport is an amazing release for the mind, body and soul, and no amount of FIFA will remedy this loss. So, in the meantime, get outside (according to government guidelines), stay fit, stay positive and remember, football will return. But also no matter what, never do Joe Wick’s routine.
Missing those thrills (and spills), James Bagby
Cricket at all levels is postponed indefinitely. The optimism must now be directed at getting a game or two in before the fleeting British summer gives way to the bitter, Cricket-hating autumn.
They say you need the six-month break to make you forget how much you hate playing the sport. At the end of the season you wonder why you give up your entire Saturdays for a sport that, at times, can only provide you with frustration and disappointment. Every village cricketer has had days turning up to games in the baking sun, losing the toss and getting forced to sweat in the field for hours, while the opposition dismantles your bowling attack. The innings break can only offer a sub-par lunch before you watch your batting line up get skittled for next to nothing. You walk out to bat and make a shaky 7 off 22, then chop a ball onto your stumps. The only solace left is arriving home a bit earlier than expected.
Why would anyone bother to play cricket then? It’s because cricket is so much more than its bad days. You can call me biased, but I believe that no sport provides the emotional rollercoaster that cricket can. One game can bring anger and frustration but also ecstasy and joy. Nothing beats the feeling of knocking over a batsmen’s middle stump or crushing a half volley through the covers for four. The competition is fierce; even at village level there aren’t many sports that can cause a middle-aged man to sledge a teenager, but that’s what makes the thrill of winning even better. Even when you lose, you do it as a team, with ten other individuals that come together every weekend to have a laugh and work together for a single goal. After the losses you still look back and take the mick out of each other for dropped catches or laughable shots, and soon they don’t sting as much.
I, like many others, will be looking out of my window at the weekends, dreaming of what could’ve been. The 50s that will never be hit and the 5-wicket-hauls that will never be taken. I wouldn’t even wish for that. I’d love a wicketless spell and single-digit score just to be back out there playing the sport I love.
Leaving those Loose-ends, Nick Powell, Print Sport Editor
There is nothing like the end of the winter sporting season in my life. Just before the dread of exam season sets in (which incidentally would be welcome as a distraction from the current nothingness), the climax of an amateur sporting season makes everything seem worth it. Having toiled for roughly 20 Rounds and Cup competitions etc…April and May are the months you get rewarded. Beautiful weather, important games every week, final tables beginning to take shape and if you’re lucky, you can walk off the field with a sun tan.
Even if you finish in lower mid-table, the end of the season provides a real sense of achievement for the players, who can reflect on the ups and downs of their season, whatever it has brought. End of Season Dinners or awards nights are not really about the winners themselves, but more so about a team coming together and realising why they play the sport and what they have in common as both players and people.
With the spread of Covid-19, amateur sport was quickly postponed, and then cancelled. Rugby took the painful approach of allocating remaining points by a formula, for amateur and semi-professional footballers, the vast majority have seen all the work they put in count for nothing, with their seasons voided. This is the same feeling that will greet any University Sports teams entering the final approach of their seasons.
Exeter Women’s Lacrosse team, who had won every single game this season, have missed their final against Durham, and a chance for a first BUCS Gold. Our Women’s footballers were one point away from promotion, with the season initially halted days before their final game, and the Men’s Rugby Team, buoyant from a strong end to the season, could not complete BUCS Super Rugby 2019/20.
They, along with all the other clubs up and down the country closing a successful season, will be gutted at being denied the opportunity to tie up those loose ends, and will perhaps always wonder what might have been.