Cricket Game
Photograph of Dean Lewis

Hate is such a strong word and I don’t use it often. I doubt there is any sport I actually hate.

I find I’m indifferent towards the Beautiful Game. I have seen several soccer matches now; from time to time I’ll accompany Roger to Sherman’s to watch a game I’m told is quite popular, somewhere.

For fellow Americans reading this: There are some guys in shorts chasing a ball. Now, they don’t pick the ball up like regular humans. Then there are two other guys who can’t afford regular, matching uniforms. They are forced to stay down at the ends of the field. The embarrassment is palpable. I suppose because they are outcast, they don’t care what anybody else thinks and they will just pick the ball up and throw it like normal Sapiens. But alas, they remain outcast and are not allowed to run with the other boys. The other players don’t care that much for the game either: they don’t stop the clock… ever. The sooner this ends, the better for humanity. Now that you understand all the rules, you pretty much know everything there is to know about socar sccour socker – whatever.

Soccer Ribbon

It turns out there are other games: One is called Cricket. Apparently a bunch of Aussies get drunk and hit balls with mis-shaped bats. I have never seen a game but even fans say it sucks. A match takes like five days… no really, a game last five days, I swear.

I met my friend Steve at Pieces & Spices yesterday and he said he saw a Cricket game once. He went to Australia and decided he would see what the fuss is about. So he goes into this big, quiet stadium and watched for awhile and decided he would leave before the game was over. That tells you something right there. Anyhow, he leaves early thinking he would beat the traffic. But no, thousands of other people decided to leave this dreadful crime too and there were traffic jams. Now, you know why Aussies are famous for drinking bad beer: Cricket.

I like Football. But alas, I live on the wrong side of the world now and all the games happen in the middle of the night. I don’t like it that much.


The Sports I Hate – and the sports I love

Roger Bara

With brevity in mind, I am sticking to just one in each category.

I love many sports, but of them all, the one I have most respect for is Rugby Union. It is a game for ruffians and hooligans, but played by gentlemen. Fifteen players on each side spend a minimum of 80 minutes every match, kicking, hitting and basically abusing and being extremely violent towards each other. Without any protection whatsoever. But, when the final whistle goes, without fail, the losers line up to applaud the victors off the pitch. Then it’s to the bar where both sides drink and celebrate each other’s company. This happens at all levels of the game, from the youngest junior sides, up to international standard. 

The same goes for the supporters. Unlike in football, (soccer to Dean), there’s no need for crowd segregation. Each supporter will cheer their side on throughout, even though there maybe opposition supporters right next to them. Again, after the match, (and indeed before the match) they will happily mingle together. They drink alcohol in huge quantity, but there’s never any violence or intimidating atmosphere.

Rugby

On the pitch, the only person allowed to question a referee’s decision is the captain of the team, and, wait for this, he has to call the referee “Sir”. In the World Cup Final of 2003 in Australia, right at the end of the match with the scores level at 18-18, England were awarded a late, late scrum-down, from which it was quite possible they would kick what would be a winning drop-goal. Despite the unbelievable tension, the Australian captain had to keep his cool, and approaching the referee said: “Excuse me Sir, why did you just penalise us?” (The referee politely explained his decision, England did score with the final kick of the match, to win the most important game in its history.)

The game is fast, furious and  aggressive with half-time the only relief from all-out action.

Which brings me to the sport I literally cannot bear. American Football. For one thing, those Yanks stole the name of football for a game that is as far removed from “soccer” as you can get. You run with the ball in your hands, so really it should have been called American Handball.

Like rugby, it’s extremely attritional, but contrastingly, American Footballers don armour to protect themselves, of which King Arthur himself would have been proud. The game stops literally every few seconds, but the match itself seems to last for hours. Also, because of the vast distances involved, there are often no “away” supporters, so the atmosphere lacks the energy created by rival fans.

And your team can’t get relegated or promoted. So, you can lose every single match in the season but no one cares, because you will survive to play the same old teams next season. Farcical. 

Viva la Rugby! 


The sports I love – the sports I hate

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

I am a sports-loving person and have been doing various sports throughout my life. 

In school, we played football in the summer and hockey in the winter. Well, it wasn’t ice hockey using skates; we played it inside our multi-apartment concrete building’s yards, on the pressed snow, with only winter boots. I was a goalie (a pretty good one) because I had no fear of catching a puck. Once I even caught a puck with my right eyebrow; it was a bloody adventure that left a small scar to remember. 

Football was, no doubt, the #1 sport. I even managed to play for my school for several games when I was at sixth grade. At the very same time, I was doing athletics, running long distances – and loving it. 

Later I kind of let it go and paid less attention to sports. However, at nineteen, when I was a foreign exchange student at Baylor University, Waco, TX, I started playing tennis with my college mates because I have always been interested in the sport, following the Grand Slam tournaments, and Baylor provided great opportunities to play tennis. 

My karate story lasts for about twenty years, it has now become a part of my lifestyle. I attend kumite (sparring) sessions every Thursday because this side of karate is my favorite. Plus, it is the ultimate goal. All katas (formal technique movements) practice and all basics training are essentially aimed to practice kumite. As I write these words, one of my left ribs is still aching as a week ago I missed a nice and very intense right middle-level hook from the guy, a former Spetnaz military, with whom we practice together each Thursday doing several two-minute rounds per training. 

Finally, long-distance running is also a part of what I am for several years now. Today I don’t run too much, but try to keep up my fitness levels. In the past, I’ve done three marathons, and even more ‘halves’ (21K). I hope my fourth 42K run still lies ahead because it is a great motivation. I also miss our nice Cyprus runs (and bike rides) with my RUSUK mate Roger: just like with my marathon plans, I hope we are to share some runs.

Russian National Team

All those sports are my favorites, naturally. As to what I like to watch, apart from football and ice hockey, I’d mention sumo. This ancient Japanese martial art of wrestling dates back to the Jomon period of the country’s history, i.e. more than two thousand years ago. It is full of Shinto symbolism and traditional colors. Drinking beer, and watching those weird, almost sacred fights is quite a meditative business! I even like watching American football: its might and dynamics are comparable with hockey but take place on the ground. 

As to the sports I hate, I can’t name any. However, there’s one thing that I still can’t catch: baseball. Its rules are still a mystery to me though Jim Lanier, my great Alaskan host and, in several ways, tutor, has spent hours in bars across Chugiak, explaining it!