Sport — a happy pill that recharges the batteries and gets us facing life’s trials and tribulations

2014-01-10 00:00

IT’S a known fact that men are from Mars and women from Venus, the whole thing about women being gatherers and men the hunters. It’s always a topic for discussion around the braai and reason for women to moan about their partners and vice-versa.

Inevitably, the whole television scenario rears its head as a delicate, sometimes hot topic of debate. How many times do wives and girlfriends get together and chat, sometimes rant about their lay-about partners who do nothing else except crack a beer, demand a meal and put their dirty feet on the clean coffee table while devouring hours of Formula One, soccer, cricket, tennis, rugby, golf and more.

It’s definitely a man thing and sport is a big part of a man’s make-up. A man seems to take inspiration and encouragement from watching others achieve on the sports field and it also makes the beer colder and sweeter.

Just to rub salt in the wounds of the fairer sex, the powers that be who control what is shown on each channel added a classic sport channel to the mix at one stage, allowing the sport couch potato to go back in time and enjoy those historic showdowns from the days of black-and-white footage and beyond.

That channel is no more, but over the recent festive season, while flicking through what was on offer, someone with a sense of humour had decided it was time to wade through some of tennis’s memorable moments. If it wasn’t the season of good cheer, there would have been many a wife and partner spitting fire at the thought of their man spending more horizontal time.

There was no second thought or hesitation that some memorable French Open finals was just the tonic needed to add some flavour to the year-end break and provide those vital, much-needed moments of rest before tackling another 12 months at the work desk. With not much live sport available, the chance to see the real characters of world tennis, the serve and volley brigade playing a game where six shots was considered a long exchange, whetted the appetite and made for an enticing stay on the sofa.

There they were, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl slugging it out in the 1984 final, Mac two sets to love up and conspiring to lose in five, thereby failing to add the French Open to his list of Major wins. Suddenly his volleys into the open court went wide, his frustration took hold and the moment was lost.

But hey, it was worth watching again. Again, it’s something only a man understands. We already know the result, but we just lap up the opportunity to watch it again. Those around us fail to understand how or why we do this. What’s the point, we are asked. Why do we want to watch something that is so old — even the picture quality is dodgy — and cheer on a player we know lost anyway?

Perhaps is does lend some fuel to the fire that men are weird and it doesn’t take much to amuse us, yet moments like these are moments of therapy, where we forget our current stress and problems and drift away on a time capsule, a happy pill that recharges the batteries and gets us facing life’s trials and tribulations like a fearless superhero.

It is just so good to see the legends of a particular sport playing in their prime. These are the players that today’s modern protagonists aspired to, the players that changed the make-up of a particular sport. They had their epic rivalries, they drew spectators to the arenas of the world and through their own brand of play, rose to the top of their chosen sport.

Matts Wilander and Yannick Noah’s 1983 final was also shown, the dreadlocked Noah bringing the crown to his home country in defeating the defending champion. The emotion of the win and the sportsmanship between the players makes it worth watching again and again.

There is something there, a message that can be used in our daily lives, an inspiration that keeps us going forward, no matter how tedious and monotonous life may be. There is encouragement gleaned from enjoying these moments once more, a hope that dreams are possible and through guts and determination, the greatest prize can be held aloft.

Later, there was the Wimbledon documentary from 1985, where South Africa’s Kevin Curren faced Boris Becker in the men’s final. The narrator set the scene as the players walked onto centre court — destiny was in Becker’s hands; would a German win the title for the first time?; would history be made with an unseeded teenager lifting the trophy?

Nearly 30 years down the line, we all know the answer, yet it was great shouting for Curren once more from the comfort of the lounge at home. It was quite a match and one that Curren could have pulled off. Nonetheless, watching the highlights was enough to make one feel good for a moment, despite the prospect of another year ahead. After another beer, it made the world seem a better place and made the prospect of returning to work after a few days’ break that much more bearable. It does indeed ring true that sport and great sporting moments do lift the spirit.

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