On playing sports

How to Be More English?

(4) On Playing Sports

It seems that there are four vital team sports played in England, of which only one is widely known and played - if recently with little international success - in Poland, and that is football. The other three are rugby, cricket and grass hockey.

Rugby is very similar to the American football, except that playing rugby you do not wear extra protection and thus do not look like a Martian on a Sunday stroll. The drawback of this, however, is a significant number of injuries from playing it. When it is played seriously it is a brutal sport and stereotypically rugby players are insensitive, vulgar and beefy lads who drink a lot. This is obviously only a stereotype. Rugby is played with an egg-shaped ball, which you are supposed to carry over onto your opponents' side and virtually put it into their gate. This would be easy if only people from the other team did not jump on you to prevent you from doing that. You can imagine it usually ends up in something that looks like a big brawl.

Cricket is the other extreme: although you can get injured almost just as easily as in rugby, it is not a violent game at all as no body contact is involved. Although it does look similar to baseball, it is different. Its hallmark constitute three vertical wooden rods stuck in the ground with a much shorter horizontal one on top. Playing cricket involves throwing around a rather heavy ball and aiming at the rods while the other team does their best to prevent it with a bat. Also running comes in at some point, as it always seems like a good idea on such occasions. Players sport woollen sweaters and rather funny kind of hats. In general, cricket is widely believed to be a boring game. Matches are long and take whole summer afternoons.

Grass hockey. Well, that is relatively easy to visualise.

All of the four games are popularly played not only in schools or universities, but also in a great number of amateur sports clubs. In general, sport is much more of an issue and of an industry in England than it is in Poland, perhaps mainly due to the financial factor. Playing rugby or cricket is seen here not as much as a way of keeping fit, but a way of developing the team spirit in youth. And that the English justly believe to be important.

As one might expect rugby, football and cricket is mainly played by men, although women rugby is getting more and more popular. However, grass hockey is popularly played by both sexes, while for example volleyball is reserved exclusively for women. It might also amuse you to learn that handball virtually does not exist over here. Or maybe not?

Put the words into action

We sincerely believe that learning to play football is unnecessary, as the Polish seem to play it just as well as the English do - even if that means no good at all. So all your attention should go towards developing your potential  in the other of the above-mentioned games. As we do not have the foggiest idea about the exact rules of either of them and because you would probably need another 20 people to do it with - we suggest you do something else. How about a game of outdoor domino combined with a little fight over 'Why have I lost again?' Relatively inexpensive, can be played with a person of the opposite sex and allegedly gives similar sensations. Similar to other team sports that is.

Good luck! And read us next week to get more English over a pint of beer.

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