One thing that perpetually irritates me about British culture is that sport equals football. That is to say, to the common man football is the only sport that matters, nay exists. Indeed I have noted this before.
So it is with not without a hint of schadenfreude that I will be following the Euro 2008 Championships this summer. And the same might be said for those among us who enjoy following sports other than ‘Le foot’.
It is clear however that British sports journalists are still in a state of denial over England’s failure to qualify for said championships (no-one actually expects Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to qualify for anything). It seems that the papers are still stuffed with news about England’s efforts on the field; particularly against the USA and Trinidad & Tobago, as if they were worthy opponents, and as if the result even mattered.
Today, this is the leading headline on BBC Sport website: “Hughes appointed Man City manager”. Yep – English football still makes the headlines even when the season is well and truly over. The fact that Mister Hughes “…has done well [at Blackburn] and taken the club into Europe a couple of times by finishing seventh twice.” and is now taking charge of another mid-league club, does not strike me (although I might be alone) as earth-shattering news. If perhaps he had won the lottery or struck oil before taking the job then that might have made it interesting.
In France however, the sporting headlines do at least have some relevance. The French Tennis Open is in full swing, still with one Frenchman in with a fighting chance of making the semi-finals; the football team’s warm up matches have enabled the French public to size up their chances in their first competition match next week; then there’s the basketball and the build up to this year’s drug-riddled Tour de France.
So if, like me, you’re intending to integrate into French society … not only are you going to have to get used to seeing other sports hit the headlines, you may have to also get used to supporting a winning side once in a while.