Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Serious Sport

It may or maynot have escaped your notice (depending upon how observant you are and how many Germans you know) that Germans are, to use a German word (that you should be able to work out the meaning for)
(=serious) about everything.
Life, the Universe and (to quote the much mourned Douglas Adams) EVERYTHING.
Not just work, or money, or health (and oh boy is that a whole 'nother subject for another day) but also things like humour (yeah, really - just you wait till I tell you all about the regimented riot of fun that is Karneval) and sport...

Now back in Britain we take sport on a national level reasonably seriously, maybe don't put enough money into some sports, but it's taken seriously, afterall no-one wants to lose and keep losing do they? It doesn't look good on the world stage to constantly never win and to always come bottom in the medal tables. It's not good for moral and other countries (or rather the people in those other countries) feel they can poke fun, anytime, and you become a whipping boy.
But if as a parent you wanted your child to experience some form of sport it would be simple to do by enrolling them in a club, either at school, sports centre, fitness club whatever and then once a week your child would trot off, do their sport thing for an hour or so and that's it, done.

No big deal (unless your child is a world superstar in the making with the chance of becoming the future Bekker/Ronaldo/Radcliffe in which case things get more 'ernst') in Germany, of course, its different. No chance here of joining a football team for a weekly knock about, not a chance, not serious or committed enough!

Most sports that children do at the ages of 8/10/12 they've already been doing since they were 5 (at least that's the way it seems to me) there seems to be little opportunity for changing your mind after a few years and deciding to do football instead of table tennis. And by the time they are 8/10/12 they are attending training twice a week after school and then matches on Saturday &/or Sunday. Like I said, a bit serious, for children, who're just doing a bit of sport!

And of course the adults are no different (why should they be, afterall they've grown up doing 2 training sessions per week with a day of competition - why change the habit of a lifetime?)
Consequently Germans do a lot of sport - or at least, I see Germans doing a lot of sport, in a very serious manner.
I'm convinced that every German has a cycle -usually a big 'sit up and beg' style but those that take their cycling seriously will also have a racing style bike or a mountain bike and all the kit that goes with...the lycra shorts, the yellow jersey (because clearly they've won the tour de france) the helmet, the fingerless gloves to grip the handlebars with...and then every weekend and bank holiday the cyclists are out there, hogging the roads riding 2/3 abreast, breathing in all the car exhaust fumes!

And then there's Nordic walking or walking with sticks as it seems to be. Germans love a bit of Nordic walking, they must all have a set of sticks/poles in the house for them to take with them when they want to look as if they're going on a serious walk, notice that I said 'take with them' and not 'use'...the majority of the people I see with nordic poles seem to be holding them and floating them through the air, now I'm no expert at nordic walking but I do know about exercise and what constitutes exercise and I'm quite sure that for the poles to increase the aerobic workout of your walk you actually need to move your arms dynamically, not just flap them about like a flighless sparrow.

My son Ben used to play golf in England and is starting to play again here, at a lesson with a pro (to assess which training group he should be put into) I was asked how much time in the week did Ben have to devote to his golf...I suggested to the pro that it was more a case of how much time Ben wanted to devote to his golf, crazy Germans.

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