Sunday, March 09, 2008

They're designed to organize a community to be committed to their gladiators

(Noam Chomsky 1928-)

My very good friend Noam (no really, SL will testify) using one of life’s great spetacles, the provider of battles, joy, heartache and discussion to talk about how it unifies. You might expect one of the world’s leading brains - a man whose ideas and arguments have been pilfered more than any other would be referring to war, politics or some such other entity but he’s not, he’s referring to sport.

While it would be wrong for a young lad like me, dragged up on the Northside to even attempt to build on the leanings of the baul Chomster but isn’t sport great. Twice over the weekend I’ve been provided with further experience of why sport should be an integral part of anyone’s life, not just for reason of fitness or personal well-being but instead for it’s ability to bind people of all backgrounds, lifestyles, beliefs, and sizes together while taking us on an unrivalled journey.

Where else would you get the drama of Saturday afternoon at Croke Park as two Celtic tribes went to war. Whatever lengths required whether legal or not used to push oneself that step closer to victory. Within the stands Irish fans unite to support those gone to battle in their name, amongst them participating in unison the fans of Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht normally quick to stick the knife into each other. At the end of the battle Wales come out on top the rivalry forgotten as the opponents on both side of the whitewashed line depart to enjoy each other's company and analyse the day’s events play by play.

Seventeen and a half hours previously eircom League 2008 burst into life. For legions of fans around the country the five-month wait finally over. Friday nights between now and November now destined to include bus journeys around the country to support those who wear your team’s jersey, home games marked by rituals long built up and passed from generation to generation – a pint in Meagher’s on the way to Tolka, chips in Burdock’s of Phibsboro before embarking on a night in Dalyer, braving the 78A from town to Richmond Park all in the name of St Pat’s. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends who may not see each other from one end of the week to the other brought together in collective homage, emotions put to the test and events witnessed to be lived time and time again.

It might sound sad but the happiest moments of my life are inseparably linked to sport. The Attaturk Stadium in the early hours of May 26th 2005, Croke Park on too many occasions to put on paper – the roller coaster of Dublin and Meath in 1991 that ended in heartache balanced out by the high of the All-Ireland Football Final of 1995. The numerous nights sitting infront of a television with my Dad kicking or fielding every ball that was digitally put in our living room, the planes, trains and ferries taken on pilgrimages with like-minded strangers, the banter had in pubs, taxis and stadia around the world. It really is a beautiful thing.


  1. I have a strange sporting history. I'm no participator for starters, being a lazy toe-rag. I did tennis in the early 90s, rugby over last 5/6 years and football since Italia 1990. I'm not an every day sports person but every 2 years I live and breath football championships. I can talk about every game, every player, every incedent of the world and european cups. Days of the week lose their place to matches; that night we danced in Synott's wasn't Sat but Italy vs US night. My holiday in the west was Portugal vs England - both the 06 and 04 of these games were all time classics. Can't wait for June, am hoping to make it to Aus/Switz but probably won't cause it's mad dear.

  2. Best sports related post I've read anywhere in ages! Not quite sure Noam approves of organised sport (not if I remember the book that's from) but nonetheless. I like sport but the thing is I wish I was more excited about the things above, and that's a shame.

    Yes Tib, more Noam. Like that night we went on the piss with him in the hostelries of Ringsend and I had to carry him over my shoulder up to his gaff in Sandymount singing "99 IQ points lost in the bar......"