Matthew Jeynes

Highs, lows, and all the extremes of emotion: This is how sport should be

Even in this age of the manufactured pleasure on computer and TV screens, there is still nothing in this world that can replicate the feeling of watching something live. It is true in music, and it is undoubtedly so in the case of sport.

Jumping around on the Lancastrian astroturf, caught up in the euphoria of de Boltz’s last-minute Roses-winning equaliser, it was a comment from Tournament secretary Matt Knight that struck me the most. His immediate reaction to the victory was to declare, “This is how Roses should be!”

However, I would extend this comment even further. I would say that that is how sport should be. Dramatic, tense, nerve-wracking and the opposites of emotion worthy of bipolar sufferers.

There are many people who dislike sport just for that reason. They cannot stand the feeling of losing. This is the opinion that drives parents and nanny-staters to try to remove any question of failure for their children, promoting the idea of ‘taking part’.

That is rubbish. A life lived without the feeling of failure is not a life worth living. It is the lows that make us appreciate the highs. I would say that this is just as true for supporters watching a game as those playing, although of course the players are affected more. There were two moments in particular that encapsulated these extremes of emotion during the Roses weekend, one of which was the Men’s 1sts Hockey match.

Throughout the match, there were people with mobiles pressed to ears, desperate for news of the other events. As a result, the news that York were losing the three remaining events, and with them Roses, slowly filtered through the crowd. Worried looks were exchanged, people unable to watch were pacing up and down, perhaps even a few prayers were offered.

Every time York got near to the Lancaster goal, a surge ran through the massed crowd, followed by despair when it came to nothing. On the Lancastrian side, the crowd attempted to block out any York attack through the sheer force of will. Both sides lived and breathed every moment with their team. On that occasion, it was York experiencing the joy of victory.

The second highlight of the weekend was the Men’s Rugby 1sts. There are few sports that can generate the same raw passion of rugby, and this particular clash was a brutal example. The York supporters were the first to feel the creeping sense of failure when they fell behind, then saw a try contentiously ruled out. However, from this low point suddenly came a high, as James Wilson’s breakaway score sent the crowd into hysterics.

Suddenly, it was the Lancaster supporter’s turn to bring their team back to life and, buoyed by the crowd, they sent wave after wave of attacks to break across York’s defences. In the end, Lancaster found a way through, this time sending Lancastrian supporters streaming onto the pitch in celebration.

But from York feeling that all was lost, they suddenly realised that Lancaster would not win if the try was unconverted. The York supporters then did everything they could to put off the Lancaster kicker, provoking the Lancaster supporters to run across the pitch to protect their number ten. In the end, the pressure was too much to bear for the fly-half, and he dragged the kick wide.

This provoked mad cheers from the Yorkists, despite the fact that they had just conceded the win, and had been feeling depressed only a few minutes ago. But this is sport. To use a cliche, it is a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and there really is nothing else quite like it.

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