Wetenschap - 6 december 2001

Good Day Sport

Good Day Sport

Ever since my early teens I've had a weakness for pool. Maybe it's because 'Colours', the Sutton snooker hall, was minutes away from my school. To most it was a break-time cigarette refuge. I went to indulge in cue sports. I've had to learn a whole new set of rules here when playing Lowlanders, though. The complex restrictions reek of the poldermodel and one is often required to aim shots off cushions in order to pocket the ball (this is called doubling). Such complications provoke the suggestion they are quite literally double Dutch!

Slightly more energetic activities than the kind you can play whilst drinking (i.e. pub games) are the more aerobic sports such as those requiring a racket. I love badminton, not traditionally considered a manly game but very quick and requiring both tactics and fitness. Generally playing games evokes memories of youth. Freedom to act instinctively, a liberty that seems to please both mind and body alike. When I play it almost feels as if I am fulfilling a purpose for which I was designed (however that came about!), dare I suggest sports are almost spiritual?

In tactical thinking you are honing the mind and with aerobic activity your whole muscular, respiratory and circulatory systems are kept busy. This allows them to function at the most efficient levels, all the time rewarding you with an increased sense of well being. With the heightened influx of brain-pleasing chemicals, it?s almost as though you are abusing a very healthy drug. The difficulty is maintaining your dignity whether winning (or more likely losing) and making sure your own enjoyment (or not) doesn?t unintentionally influence others.

'Fitness' is the ability to cope with prolonged activity and getting 'fitter' is pushing your limits. I don't consider myself as fit as I could be but maybe that's because I'm comparing myself with my parents ? adrenalin junkies who frequent the gym in between their competitive sporting endeavours. Holland's health conscious behaviour may explain their vigorous passion for sport, not to mention the inhabitants' beauty.

The Dutch stereotype likes to support the common cause. Their backing of national teams is anything but reserved and they proudly earn the nickname, 'the Orange Army'. Patriotism is also reflected the affections held for the Royal Family. The most press criticism I saw recently was rating of dresses worn by the fianc?e of the Crown Prince. The revelation that her religion would clash with that of Willem-Alexander did not seem to provoke much controversy. News in England that the BBC did not plan to change the television schedule in the event of the Queen Mother passing away, completely failed to raise any eyebrows! Is this a healthy difference?

David Hopkins

zen@mail2my.com

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