I've never been particularly sporty. It was always a mystery to me why anyone would deliberately set out to exert themselves and get hot and sweaty. I've always felt that exertion is to be avoided at all costs. The idea of a 'personal best' or of a world record has never held any fascination for me and I find a state of being at rest, in perfect equilibrium, is so much more attractive than doing a lot of energetic stuff.
But be all that as it may, I couldn't help but be impressed by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which are due to come to a close this evening as I write, with a song or two by the diminutive but gorgeous Kylie Minogue, not to mention the evergreen Lulu and some Scottish band called Deacon Blue. However, the music is neither here nor there. What has made a lasting impression on me is the athletes themselves, the young people from the countries of the Commonwealth who did the running, jumping, swimming and all the other very tiring things.
I've always been quick to criticise young people in the UK, by which I mean people younger than thirty-five (since we now have at least two generations of obese, tattooed, loud-mouthed ignoramuses). Yet here are these youngsters in Glasgow competing in all manner of sporting events. They look good, they speak well and they are very good at what they do.
First their appearance - they all looked staggeringly fit, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They all seemed to have a ready smile and their team spirit was there for all to see. Then their speech - unlike those awful louts, the Premier League footballers, these youngsters can string a sentence together and speak intelligently when interviewed. As for their ability - new records were set and I didn't see any of the young people swearing at the event organisers or being sent off for bad behaviour, which would be routine among the cave people in a football match.
I discovered to my amazement that I was sitting in front of the television watching a sporting event. Normally I would prefer to get down on my knees and count the tufts in the carpet in my study. But this was great television because it was genuinely uplifting. I got the feeling that not all young people in this country are semi-articulate dole scroungers or experts at disrupting lessons in their school. Here in Glasgow, amidst wonderful sporting facilities, were youngsters who had drive and ambition, a sense of purpose and of direction. They would get up in the darkness of the early hours to train in their sport, they would stick to a special diet and they would give up much of their social life in order to excel at their chosen activity.
The Commonwealth is a potentially exciting concept which I must admit I rarely think about. Perhaps we've neglected it. Perhaps we should make more of it. Perhaps it's something we're still good at. After all, there has to be something, doesn't there?
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