My favourite American sport is (American) football. It takes too long, but I like the whole strategy-and-violence thing. One day I’ll explain why I cheerfully support the Cincinnati Bengals (masochist). I don’t like ice hockey (can’t see the puck) or basketball (wake me up in the fourth quarter).

I love football (soccer), and I don’t think there’s a game on the earth the inspires such intense devotion. Where I grew up there was no big local team, so I ended up supporting Everton (based in Liverpool). My first visit to Goodison Park was perhaps as good a spiritual experience as I have ever had (and I’m a religious man).

Rugby is also a wonderful game. 80 minutes of muddy, fast, brutal play. And need I say that England are the current World Champions? (And that’s world as in “global”, not world as in “World”Series – yes I know it’s world because it was first sponsored by the New York World, but no-one knows that).

Speaking of baseball: also a good game. I can understand the passion, but I think it’s something you would have to be brought up on. Not having played catch with my dad, I will forever be an outsider. Camden Yards is a beautiful stadium though, and a great place to spend a summer’s evening.

Let me now extol the virtues of cricket. Now you Yanks laughingly dismiss cricket as a staid, boring game played by English aristocrats. Wrong! Clearly you do not follow the India vs. Pakistan games. Anything but genteel. Cricket, for me, has two appealing attributes. First, because the game takes time, you can go to the game with a picnic, listen to the radio, and read the paper. Every word. So it’s a day out, and a jolly pleasant one at that.

But don’t let cricket’s lumbering pace deceive you: is there anything more exciting than feeling the pressure a batsman is under after he’s been playing out there for a day-and-a-half? Or the bowlers who’ve hurled that rock-hard ball down at him two hundred times? And then when the game draws to a climax, after three or four days of gargantuan effort, you can only imagine the agony/ecstasy when your team wins/fails on the final ball.

‘Tis a grown-up’s game. Should any of us be in England one summer, let me introduce you to the marvels of cricket. One needs to be initiated.

Now the US has a cricket team. And the US was going to hold the cricket world cup in 2007, but was rejected in the end because of fears that all those swarthy subcontinent-types coming into the country would have visa problems. Cricket used to be fairly popular in the States at the turn of the century, particularly around Philadelphia, but was eclipsed by baseball. Alas.


  1. The Cincinatti Bengals? Ah, you must have been very pleased with their performance against Denver.

    But on to Cricket–I have tried, and I’m not averse to trying again, but I really can’t develop much appreciation for the sport in its own right. I can see it as an afternoon for the family. But as a sports fan I’m not looking for sports whose primary virtue is the fact that I can read the entire newspaper in the course of a match and not feel that I missed anything exciting.

    Compared to baseball I feel like cricket is somewhere betwee primitive and traditional. It doesn’t have nearly the strategic variety of baseball, and lacks the knack of baseball (or rugby for that matter) to take on the personality of the city or country being represented. Or does it? Does an India-England match become a flashpoint for post-colonial Indian resentment? Does Indian culture and personality somehow reveal itself in the styles and strategies of play?


    I do love to watch good rugby. I think that American football is the most refined, intelligent sport on the planet and I’m pleased that Ronan has been converted.


  2. I love to watch international cricket. I enjoy that it’s relaxed, but also appreciate the great skill of deciding what direction to hit the ball, using front or back leg approach, and the variety of bowling techniques. I appreciate the same thing in baseball pitchers, but to my fairly un-educated mind batting just looks like they’re swinging at the ball and hoping for a hit. I really enjoy watching pretty much any sport – an attribute I hope my husband appreciates, as I don’t know many other wives who’ll sit and watch any sport with them. I find American football enjoyable – just too darn long, and the stopping and starting good for bathroom breaks, but annoying after a while. My favourite is football (soccer). Fast, skillful, exciting. I miss the weekly dose we got back home.


  3. Superbowl 23, Bengals-49ers was the first NFL game I saw. I liked the uniform. I’m a loyal fan. Yes, Monday might was fantastic.

    You’re right, club cricket is not very partisan, but the international games are wonderfully heated. And then there’s the infamous < HREF="">Tebbit-test<>. Norman Tebbit was a Conservative minister who suggested a very easy test of nationality for British Asians: if England play India or Pakistan at cricket, who do they support? (It’s usually the latter, which for Tebbit meant they’re not really British. It didn’t go down well.)

    As for cricket’s continuing role in international politics: currently there’s a great deal of hand-wringing about < HREF="">whether the England team should tour Zimbabwe.<>


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