Monday, August 15, 2005

The Travails of Fandom

One of the most frustrating things about being a sports fan is being trapped, unable to watch a match while it unfolds, having to rely on incomplete sources for updates. My friends will tell you that whenever I watch a match live (especially an England rugby match), I often give the appearance of being on the verge of having a heart attack. My frustration only increases the further from a TV screen I am.

When England were knocked out of the 1998 World Cup, I was wandering around my school grounds, backstage in a school play, desperately trying to find a radio. The only information I got was through hearing the cheers and cries of the pubs down the High Street - and trying to interpret them was a pretty difficult task! Similarly, a friend and I probably drove the rest of our halls of residence mad in our first year when we started screaming at my computer - all because of a moving American football helmet on my screen, updated at irregular intervals.

So it was today with the England-Australia match. Trapped in an office, I was reliant on text updates from my brother - that only served to raise my hopes when I saw that Australia were seven wickets down at half past four. Imagine my frustration to be driving home at half past six, with only Test Match Special on the radio to listen to, reliant on the opinions of someone else to relay the information!

Somehow, England's failure to win was all the more frustrating for my being unable to watch the match live. Partially, of course, my irritation stretches from the fact that I will now be out of the country during the crucial Test match, and be reliant on similar means of update (Cricinfo's ball by ball) to find out the ultimate destiny of the Ashes. Yet whilst watching a match live, you feel, as ridiculous as it seems, more in control of what's happening. At least you know for sure that what you are seeing is real.

Having to listen to England coming tantalisingly close to getting their first hand on the Ashes, on the other hand, cannot be good for my blood pressure.