Double Trouble

Friday, September 24, 2004

Gareth looks on as I take John and Will to task, virtually single handedly.

Badminton – Men’s Doubles – Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, 23rd September 2004, 7:00PM

I’ve always thought that I prefer individual sports to team events. I was born and raised as a golfer – a sport where being on your own tends to be the rule rather than the biennial exception. I played team sports at school (hockey, rugby, cricket) and I enjoyed them, but I could never understand the people who trained really hard to try and get good at them. What was the point? You could bring yourself to a state of near-perfection to then have all your efforts rendered meaningless when the weakest player dropped the ball in the last minute to cost you the match.

Ask people to name the greatest sports people of all time and they give you boxers, athletes, tennis players, cyclists, swimmers – inevitably Pelé and Best get a mention, but only because they were known as exceptional individuals, rather than good team players. The message I always garnered from that was that to be great, you had to be on your own.

Doubles represents a special kind of team challenge. Blame for failure cannot be easily swallowed up by an entire team – if it wasn’t your partner’s fault, it was yours. There is an unwritten law in doubles of any description that most people adhere to: don’t apologise. The assumption is that you’re trying as hard as you can, and that you’re sorry for any mistakes you make, so no need to spend the whole match saying so.

Last night, Gareth and I took on John and Will in the second event of my Olympic challenge, the badminton men’s doubles. For the first time in many years, I enjoyed playing as part of team. Perhaps it was because I know Gareth well enough to know that he wanted to beat our opposition probably about as much as I did (not through any ill feeling, just because we both hate to lose).

BB King once said in an interview that a big part of living a happy life was not only to help other people, but also to let other people help you. Doubles is a bit like that sometimes – it feels good to play well, but it can also feel good when your partner steps in and supports you when you make a monkey of it all. It also feels good that in the end the result belongs to both of you, no matter who played well and who didn’t.

Doubles in badminton is also fun because you don’t end up feeling like you might die by the end of each game like you do in singles, even though the sports hall was somewhat hotter than would be considered ideal last night.

In the end, perhaps sport is more about sharing than it is about being alone. Perhaps the magic lies in two or more people suddenly working together as though controlled by a single mind. I wouldn’t say that Gareth and I are quite at that level just yet, but we had our moments, and we did manage to sneak a win.

Result of Badminton – Men’s Doubles
Gareth Forber (GBR) & John McClure (GBR)
Will Clapton (GBR) & John Adams (GBR)
15-9, 12-15, 15-2


No said...

I LOVE this blog!

SwissToni said...

You see - I told you it was worth putting the "comments" thing on.... you wouldn't be getting that kind of feedback if you hadn't, would you?

Not quite an offer of help with the pole vault, or a pledge of some cash, but it's always great when someone stops by and approves of your handiwork, eh?

John said...

Sozz - meet Mish - my pole vault coach.