Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brits take their weird sports seriously

Some of you loyal fans of BritishSpeak remember my very first post. It was (sort of) about Association Football, but I called it Soccer. Remember? What fun we had that day. What a tolerant bunch you were.

I took your abuse and learned a little (damn little) about the game you mistakenly call "football", and then you told me about rugby and even mentioned gaelic football. Well, I guess you never really told me: Catherine threatened to tell me, but never did. Be that as it may, these are sports in name only in the U.S., played only as curiosities at a few Ivy League universities. (Rugby, not soccer. Soccer is very widespread in the U.S. now. At least among children.)

I never got round to talking about the game of cricket. Thank goodness. What an oddity! I put cricket right up there with La Crosse and curling. Filed under "Things best left unknown by Americans."

I have given it quite a bit of thought, and I think the reason soccer has never really caught on with Americans (at a professional level) is because of the odd rule that you can't use your hands to pick up the ball and smash it into your opponent's face. It is my theory that, if this mistake is ever corrected, then the sport will gain rapid stature across the pond. The whole point of American sport, after all, is almost always to find ways to maim your adversary. But I am here to talk about darts, and maiming so seldom happens in that game.

I enjoy Pub games. Darts. Snooker. Well, darts anyway. Snooker: not so much. You have to actually think in order to play snooker, and (for me at least) thinking sometimes doesn't come that naturally in a bar after 10 or 12 drinks. So.

But darts I can do. Stand me up and point me in the right direction. Drunk or no. I think this is because one practices throwing darts so many hundreds of times that it eventually becomes second nature, and you can thus do it fairly adequately even when more than a little drunk. In fact, faking being even drunker than you really are is about the only way I can think of to actually hustle at darts. At least in the U.S. You Brits have probably discovered other ways.

I'm ok at darts, even pretty drunk, just as long as I have someone who can subtract reliably and who won't lie to me about how many points I still need to go out. Not that you Brits would lie to a drunk American about a thing like that.


  1. You can't maim anyone at darts? You haven't seen me try!

    I can instruct you on cricket any time you want. Lacrosse not so much, though I probably know more than you :), or Gaelic football. Hurling? Has nobody mentioned hurling? Vicious that is.

  2. I am trying hard now to picture a. at darts. Unable to. Sorry. Yes, please—do author a post on the history and rules of cricket. With such a post, your words have a chance of reaching someone who cares, and will also give me a day off. Win-win. As to hurling, my dear a., I have not only covered it, but have included a vivid illustration. At least I covered the American definition of the word "hurling". You must have been absent that day.

    PS-despite my outward disdain, I would (secretly) read such a post about cricket. Just because I will never have an opportunity to play it or see it played doesn't mean I should remain in ignorance, does it?

  3. No I wasn't absent that day. I am becoming sadly aware that I am never absent.

    Cricket. Not in the very near future. We are about to go away for a short holiday and until then I have rather a lot of work to do. It could take a lifetime. Where are all the cricketers when you need them?

  4. How can lacrosse be something avoided by Americans when it supposedly comes from a game played by Native Americans??!!

    Gaelic football and hurling, I can tell you about; rugby union even more; rugby league I spit at. Cricket isn't something I've played for a while - my Dad taught me to bowl donkey-droppers when I was a kid though.

    If you still want a post on some obscure sports (Gloucester cheese-rolling, anyone?), you only need ask, you know...

  5. By the way, playing darts is great fun for cocktail parties (you assign a score to each recipe and drink whatever corresponds to where your dart sinks).

  6. Are you deriding Canada's official national sport? Lacrosse!

    I was vague on what you guys meant by hurling. How unGaelic of me. Thought it was a mispelled 'curling.' However, Wikipedia tells me this would be the most fun-ass game ever.

    Miscellania corner:

    I used to be a master shotputter. I won awards. OK, it was juniour high school, but I can't let this taste of athletic prowess escape me boasting about it forevermore.

    Catherine, do you think drinking games warrant a listing in and of themselves under 'weird sports'? I can think of so many excellent games in this department.

  7. Oooh, Grumpus, drinking game definitely warrant their own post. From the humble boat race to the more complex ones that involve co-ordination and thought, there are plenty to play...

  8. Although I though the Canadian national sport was ice hockey? (Pretty much always called that over here as we didn't even get it till the 70s or 80s - just 'hockey' usually means 'field hockey' and running about on grass or gravel in short skirts.)

  9. I went to America a few weeks ago and an American friend of mine asked me to explain the rules of Cricket to him. Big mistake.... he was trying to compare Cricket to baseball throughout my explanation so when I mentioned that you score runs for hitting the ball over the boundary and there are 2 batsmen in at any one time it total blew his mind. The only thing that these 2 games truly have in common is that they both use a ball.

    There is a USA Cricket team that competes in the Cricket world cup so if you are interested in looking into the wonderful mad world of cricket then they might be worth checking out. USACA

    Anyway cool blog mate :-)

  10. Darts. Also known as 'arrers', (arrows). The alleged origin of the sport is that in days gone by, archers gathered in taverns and ale houses, and competed against one another by throwing shortened arrows at a target.
    The word 'target' comes from 'targe', a shield.

    Cricket has no rules.
    Laws. That's what cricket has.
    It's hard to understand, but is the perfect accompaniment to a cool pint of beer, outside the pub, (The Cricketer's Arms is one local pub), watching a leisurely game of cricket on the village green.

    I was never any good at cricket, being short-sighted, and not knowing I was short sighted, I could not see the ball arc from the bowler's hand, nice leg-spinner, a puff of dust as it bounces catches the batsman wrong-footed, he swings, crack! and the ball accelerates parabolically toward me. My teammates are all yelling CATCH!.... but of course, I can't see the bloody thing, a hard ball of cork and leather flying toward my head at sixty miles per hour.
    I can do one of three things. Suddenly see the ball as it pops into existence, twelve feet away, driving hard, catch it... dodge out of its way, or...... drop like a sack of potatoes, bleeding and unconscious.
    Guess which I did.
    Clue: I was always the last to be picked for a cricket team. Clue two: Ouch.

  11. Darts are an awesome tool to torture someone with however, as a game, I prefer pool. Of course, I can maim someone with pool balls too, if they piss me off enough.

    Oh and I am pretty sure I am very good at the American version of hurling. I just suck at remembering.....

  12. @Catherine-You are right. Lacrosse is derived from a stick-net-ball game of certain Native Americans of the northern portion of the American Midwest (and southern Ontario, I believe.) I have no excuse for forgetting that since I was born and raised in Michigan. Lacrosse is today played mostly in Canada, I think. Sorry for the lapse. And you KNOW I will hold you to that post. :)

    @Grumpus. It is so good to welcome back our resident extraterrestrial from a field trip of ghost town exploration. And without even a how do you do, she starts in on me. Lacrosse again. But I perk up at the mental image of a little shotputting Grumpus. A sport unknown on her native Saturn. And speaking of guest posts, would not everyone under the sun just LOVE to read a joint post by Grumpus and Catherine on the subject of drinking games? It is to dream. I will hound them, however. I am good at hounding. Grumpus has also recently purchased a Wacom tablet and is progressing nicely in digital illustration. Please visit her website, When Things Get Dark, and take a look at her first Wacom digital painting at the top of the page. You are good, missy. And do also please visit the astonishing Catherine's writing blog, Sharp Words.

  13. @inquisitor goody-thanks so much for your visit. I am hopelessly ignorant of cricket, but have managed to cajole my good friend A. into making a two-part guest post on the subject. The first installment will appear here tomorrow. If anyone can get it through my thick head, it will be she. Thanks again for the comment. Hope to see you back again.

    @soubriquet-thank you for the cricket humor. Sorry, humour. Funny. And I am currently trying to figure out a way to have a virtual darts tournament, without damaging anyone's monitor screen, of course. Still working it out. Assuming you have long-since corrected your vision, I hope you will participate. But then, one may not exactly need vision for virtual darts. We'll see. :) I do appreciate your recent contributions and support, and will be making it over to your place soon.

    @Petra-Dear, awesome zombie neutralizing Petra. Your veiled threats are well-taken, and will be obeyed. I have no wish to incur your serious wrath. And thank you for standing up for me today against the spiteful onslaught of Candy Girl on your blog. Although—and I am not quite sure you quite grasp this yet—Candy Girl is...well, ME. Along with a host of other characters and bewildering avatars. Sigh. But nevertheless, you sounded appropriately loyal, and I am now sorry I set her on you. And Chica. And, well, a lot of others as well. You see, when I write a post and nobody comes to comment, what I do is go out and drag your asses in, you see. I am pro-active in my blogging. :) Ah, yes, the American version of hurling. I suppose you will never follow my links again. Funny, Grumpus will never click on any of my links now, either.

    @Chica-Chica? Odd. I thought Chica would have commented. Can't say why.



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