Five Moments in Sport


I wrote an essay, ‘Five Moments in Sport’, and the lovely people at The Stinging Fly published it in May 2019.

In July 2019 they kindly put the essay online on their website

You can read it by clicking here.

The essay began as a work investigating why I write about sport – it has a lot to do with my father. I tried to copy Joan Didion’s essay ‘Why I Write’. In my defence, she copied an essay by George Orwell called: (wait for it): ‘Why I Write’.

Initially I called my essay ‘Why I Write’ (if it ain’t broke …) but during the editing of the essay it morphed into ‘Why I Write about Sport’ and then into ‘Five Moments in Sport’. Big thank you to The Stinging Fly editor, Danny Denton, for all his work and support.

The essay was originally much longer, up to 8,000 words and that’s far too long for a magazine. So we cut and we cut and we cut and that’s all fine.

I will reuse almost all the cut material in a series of related essays, covering topics about: loss in sport, initiation to sport, identity, masculinity/the body, the dark sides of sport (two dark sides, in particular: toxic masculinity and sexism), and how we feel emotion in sport – how that works and why we do it and what sport does to us.

These essays are part of a larger body of work – a book of several essays describing my love affair, my obsession, with sport over the last 50 years. Provisional title: A Place Beyond Words.

Watch this space…

PS: You can read Didion’s essay here and Orwell’s essay here, but mine is much better. Only saying.

PPS: The irony of it is that Orwell hated sport with a fervour (see his famous diatribe ‘The Sporting Spirit’ – he’s being ironic – here) and Didion isn’t gone on it either.

Addendum: The most famous quote in Orwell’s essay is: ‘Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.’ In one of my essays I will prove him right. In another I will prove him wrong. I know, I know.

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