In my desire to be a more complete human being, I’m considering how I might go about developing (or at least faking) an interest in sports. This would make me more anonymous (synonymous?) in the casual company of other men, and fill those awkward silences where “So, what’s your favourite Homeric rhyming couplet?” is more likely to get you a punch in the head than a debate about Alexander Pope’s excesses.

To begin with, because I already half-understand cricket, all I need to do is memorise all the confusing field positions so that I don’t embarrass myself the next time Virat Kohli butchers the Australian pace-attack by shouting “Boundary by The Kohlinator to bring up the century! Another chance gone begging for Cameron Bancroft at leg-gully!” Which is just so wrong for so many reasons.

But cricket only gets me to half-base. To complete the home run (see, an apposite sporting simile) I need a winter sport as well, apparently. In Oz the options are football (Union), football (League), football (Soccer), football (Australian Rules) or polocrosse. As I don’t know one end of a horse from the other, forced to pick a football I’ll go with Australian Rules. I’ve played it (badly) before, and it seems marginally less gay.

But sadly that’s not enough to convince the average Aussie that you aren’t a suspect. You also have to be passingly conversant with at least one international sport. My years of martial arts did nothing to lessen my appreciation for the pugilistic arts, and I still don’t mind occasionally watching the boxing. it seems that while I’m too old to get punched in the ring myself, I don’t mind watching other blokes cop a good fisting. Erm…

Sorry Mike! And for good measure, I could probably fake (perhaps even develop) an interest in one American sport. It won’t be basketball, and I’m already stuck with one football, so it almost has to be Major League baseball. And because my experience of American culture derives almost completely from two glorious pre-COVID weeks I spent in New York, my choice of teams really boils down to one. Go the Yankees!

… did I say that right, Kate? “Go the Yankees!”?

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