March 27, 2013

Sport can be exciting? Who knew?

Or why an exciting draw does not prove that draws are exciting

On Tuesday morning, I woke to find that England had not lost. I wasn't surprised. English people prefer having their backs to the wall. For one thing, having your back to the wall means that when it comes time for a cigarette break, you can lean on the wall, whereas your opponent, not having access to a wall, has to sit down on the wet grass. It also gives you the chance to earn a kind of victory, without the tedious business of having to win anything.

I was vexed to have missed this year's exciting Test match, but pleased that England had made a stand against the win-at-all-costs mentality of modern sport. I was brought up to believe that it was the taking part that counts. Or the way you play the game. Or something along those lines, anyway. By doggedly refusing to permit a positive result, Prior and chums have registered their protest, and reminded us all that winning isn't everything.

But as I rummaged through the post-match rubble, I was alarmed to find that two mouldy, decomposing ideas had clambered out of their holes and were shambling around cyberspace. Even now the Twittersphere is echoing to their mournful sound. So before this gets out of hand, let's take a metaphorical shovel to these zombie clichés.

Cliché number one is that an exciting draw proves that draws can be exciting. This is true as far as it goes, which isn't very far. Yes a draw can be exciting, just as the Sun newspaper can be informative, a commentary stint from Ravi can be tolerable. and an episode of The X-Factor can be entertaining. There's no reason why not. It's just that the probability of such things occurring in the real world is somewhere between one in a hundred and never.

In the Draw family, there are many species. The Lesser Spotted Nail-Biter is a rare creature - although not quite as shy as the Tie - and eager draw-spotters are far more likely to come across one of the common sort.

For example, there's the South Asian Draw (Stalematus Inevitabilis), which thrives around roads, car parks or particularly flat areas of Indian and Sri Lankan cities. The Northern European Draw (Precipitation Interruptus) can often be found in English wetlands, where it is attracted to brightly coloured umbrellas. And the Peters Out on the Final Day (Stadium Desertus) was once so common that it was considered a pest.

So, draws can be exciting, but they usually aren't.

Cliché number two is that an exciting conclusion to a Test match proves that Test matches are best. Those people who are retweeting this piffle, or teaching it to their parrots, neighbours or children are in need of the services of Dr Logic and a generous spoonful of his Reality Tonic. Sport is supposed to be exciting. That a sporting event leads to an exciting finish should not be cause for wonder and awe.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Very funny article- especially: "England had made a stand against the win-at-all-costs mentality of modern sport". However, Dr Logic could easily argue that an exciting finish proves that Test matches are best, if it is a conclusion drawn in comparison with other versions of the game that don't provide exciting conclusions, (despite, perhaps, contributing excitement sporadically throughout the game's duration); depending on the beholder's definition of excitement, (e.g. if someone thinks that a Panesar rearguard is mega-exciting because it induces reminders of Ashes 2005, then he/she probably won't find T20 exciting).

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    * Ashes '09. My Mistake.

  • PratyushMR on March 27, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    Really loved those biological names in the concluding paragraph...

  • on March 27, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I am crying with laughter , Hughes!!! You are just too funny. "South Asian Draw (Stalematus Inevitablis)" and "Stadium Desertus!!!!!!. But when will you write something on the 4-0 drubbing of Australia?? .

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Very funny article- especially: "England had made a stand against the win-at-all-costs mentality of modern sport". However, Dr Logic could easily argue that an exciting finish proves that Test matches are best, if it is a conclusion drawn in comparison with other versions of the game that don't provide exciting conclusions, (despite, perhaps, contributing excitement sporadically throughout the game's duration); depending on the beholder's definition of excitement, (e.g. if someone thinks that a Panesar rearguard is mega-exciting because it induces reminders of Ashes 2005, then he/she probably won't find T20 exciting).

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    * Ashes '09. My Mistake.

  • PratyushMR on March 27, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    Really loved those biological names in the concluding paragraph...

  • on March 27, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I am crying with laughter , Hughes!!! You are just too funny. "South Asian Draw (Stalematus Inevitablis)" and "Stadium Desertus!!!!!!. But when will you write something on the 4-0 drubbing of Australia?? .

  • on March 27, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I am crying with laughter , Hughes!!! You are just too funny. "South Asian Draw (Stalematus Inevitablis)" and "Stadium Desertus!!!!!!. But when will you write something on the 4-0 drubbing of Australia?? .

  • PratyushMR on March 27, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    Really loved those biological names in the concluding paragraph...

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    * Ashes '09. My Mistake.

  • SkillNotResult on March 27, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Very funny article- especially: "England had made a stand against the win-at-all-costs mentality of modern sport". However, Dr Logic could easily argue that an exciting finish proves that Test matches are best, if it is a conclusion drawn in comparison with other versions of the game that don't provide exciting conclusions, (despite, perhaps, contributing excitement sporadically throughout the game's duration); depending on the beholder's definition of excitement, (e.g. if someone thinks that a Panesar rearguard is mega-exciting because it induces reminders of Ashes 2005, then he/she probably won't find T20 exciting).