The Olympics really depresses me.
Not just the horrendous waste of money and the revolting jingoism and the all-pervading ideological reinforcement… but it represents a boat I missed.
Sport. Games. I hate them. But I strongly suspect that I hate them because school trained me to, through social punishment.
In school, sport is a dark ritual soaked in hierarchy and humiliation and hatred and contempt. Win or you’re rubbish. Understand and like and care about the right things or you’re ‘gay’ (horror of horrors). Be thin and athletic or know that you are subhuman.
All school is like that. A huge pyramidal structure of power in which the establishment trains its next generation to be drones or managers or lumpen failures salutary for the rest of us. Meanwhile, the kids compete for popularity and cool and acceptance. Learn, children, straight away, that life is a race and the losers are scum. It’s all built on the shaming and degradation of anyone different or overweight or awkward or sad or bookish or unattractive or poor or clueless or weak.
That was the context in which I was exposed to sport and games for the first time. I don’t remember ever being taught about it. I was just thrown in and expected to prove my aggressive masculinity (at age 7 or whatever!), to jeer at anybody who wasn’t as good as me, or accept that it was my place to be jeered at if I didn’t have any aptitude or skill.
Inevitably, I reacted against it and became not just useless but actively hostile. I started to define myself in opposition to things like healthiness and outdoorsiness and athleticism.
But I don’t really believe that sport is inherently bad or worthless. I was just made to take on that rationalisation because sport in school made me feel bad and worthless.