Friday, April 10, 2009

Sports Night

The Spanish have a lively interest in something called the NBA, the American basketball league. We have it stuffed down our throats every time we switch on the telly or pick up a newspaper. The reason for this is because there are three very tall Spaniards who play in different Yankee teams. One of the players is called Pau Gasol and he plays, I believe, for the Lakers. I hope any red-blooded American readers of this blog are suitably impressed. Our boys beating you at your game. Oh, the irony. Mind you, one can’t help wondering if, in the happy event that there were no very tall Spaniards galloping about on a hard-floor in Denver and scoring hoops or baskets (or whatever) every five seconds, then we wouldn’t be subjected to being obliged to watch this peculiar game with quite the same fervour. But then, who’s to know. Tonight, on the other TV channels – the ones that aren’t showing football or golf or tennis – we are swamped for choice between (and I’m not making this up) a Hollywood weeper about an ‘American Football player’ who finds a small child on his step and, I’m wiping away a tear as I write this, finds some classy form of redemption; and another film on Channel Five about another ‘American Football player’ who, for a change, befriends a disabled black kid who – well, I won’t spoil the plot for you.
In Spain, if you go out for a beer on a football ('soccer') night, which is essentially almost any night of the week, then there will be lots of bars with big-screen televisions to choose from, pumping out as loud as possible the entire enervating and nerve-wracking game for their customers' pleasure; and around the corner there will be other places, quieter, full of what are known as football widows. And people like me.
Between Spain’s fervent love of watching soccer at the drop of a beer-mat, a game as ephemeral in its importance as a weather forecast, or the paeans of praise tossed – or rather ‘lobbed’ - onto the shoulders of the NBA star Pau Gasol (he’s probably Catalonian), I think that we should give thanks that no one has ever moved from Spain to New Zealand… and joined a cricket team.

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