WHY DO you watch sport, play sport, talk sport, love sport? For 12 days, starting Wednesday, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow offers another chance to question our commitment to something that is inherently, in a world of surface-to-air missiles and global conflict, just a glorious triviality.
On Thursday you’ll surprise yourself, telling children and dogs to shove off because Malawi against Northern Ireland in the netball is reaching a crescendo. By Friday you’ll be an authority on the air rifle and by next week you’ll be an evangelist for rugby sevens and consider lobbying your MP about squash not being an Olympic sport.
Tom Daley and Mo Farah will sprinkle stardust and Usain Bolt will play a cameo role anchoring the Jamaican relay team. In two weeks it will be over, the people of Scotland will go back to the referendum and we’ll be 10 days from the Premier League resuming.
In the intervening period, you’ll have marvelled at the dedication and commitment of talented young athletes, the majority of whom devote their lives to a sport which offers zero chance of buying an affordable home. Thanks to a combination of lottery funding and the bank of mum and dad, they’re able to provide riveting and captivating entertainment with badminton racquets, hockey sticks and table tennis bats.
You don’t know their names now, and you won’t remember them by the time Arsene Wenger misses the first sending-off in a new season, but they are as important as Novak Djokovic, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Rory McIlroy in shaping this sporting summer. The lawn bowls will captivate, the protocol and terminology of judo will bemuse, and there is always something unmissable about weightlifting.
The variety and purity of competition will reassure you that all those hours you invest in sport aren’t wasted, even if half the time you haven’t got a clue what’s going on, as you cheer for the Cook Islands for no discernible reason.
Submerge yourself in everything Glasgow 2014 offers. It’ll reinforce your faith in what sport, for all its failings and foibles, represents.