Sarah Bradley


Why I don’t like sport

I should clar­ify, I like play­ing sport (not that I am very good at it), but I don’t like watch­ing it on tele­vi­sion or in per­son. This is par­tic­u­larly in re­gard to team sport, of which New Zealan­ders are very keen.

Watch­ing a rugby or rugby league match is akin to the prover­bial grass grow­ing for me. I just don’t get it. What is ex­cit­ing about a mis­shaped ball be­ing tossed from one end of a field to the other? I am sure Steve Hale will be seething when he reads this and will hur­riedly get on the phone to ex­tol the virtues of the game. I look for­ward to that call, be­cause he will need to do some ex­plain­ing. I am pleased that the for­wards do at least wear head pro­tec­tion these days be­cause those cau­li­flower ears are so bizarre. Can they be fixed?

Slightly more bear­able for me is soc­cer or foot­ball. I have to ad­mit that one of the most ex­cit­ing days of my life was go­ing along to the Welling­ton West­pac Sta­dium to see that nail-bit­ing de­cider be­tween the All Whites and Bahrain. I re­mem­ber when Bahrain got the free kick and I just couldn’t watch. Cov­er­ing my eyes, I heard the col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief and my part­ner say­ing to me, “He missed”. Gosh that was ex­cit­ing, but I haven’t watched a match since.

By far the only sport I will make a vague ef­fort to watch is ten­nis, but only at the high­est level. My ex is one of the best ten­nis play­ers in the coun­try (in his an­cient age group), so I used to love watch­ing him play in the re­gional and na­tional com­pe­ti­tions and I am par­tial to a Grand Slam.

My least favourite spec­ta­tor sport would be cricket. This game can go on for days. How do people sit through it, let along play through it? Is it like Grid Iron, where you have to know the play­ers and the sta­tis­tics? I am al­ways open to en­light­en­ment. Oh and also watch­ing the re­cent Amer­ica’s Cup when we started los­ing. That was tor­ture and I am sure ev­ery­one will agree.

A rap on the knuck­les too far.

We are a na­tion full of child abusers and al­most all the abusers were them­selves abused. Yet there are still some who think that it is ac­cept­able to hit their own chil­dren.

It wasn’t so much that Colin Craig ad­mit­ted to phys­i­cally dis­ci­plin­ing his chil­dren, it was the fact that he de­scribed how he did it and what he saw as the ef­fi­cacy of a flick on the knuck­les. I thought such pun­ish­ment had dis­ap­peared with Charles Dick­ens, or at least with my Prim­mer One teacher. I know sev­eral people who still hit their kids, in spite of it be­ing against the law.

I re­mem­ber look­ing in­no­cently into a class­room through its glass door at Stan­ley Bay Pri­mary School with a cou­ple of other lit­tle friends a zil­lion years ago. Some­thing in­ter­est­ing must have been go­ing on, I can’t re­mem­ber what. Per­haps they were putting on a play, it cer­tainly wasn’t any­thing sin­is­ter. What I do re­mem­ber clearly is the sharp sting­ing on my back­side as I was slapped very hard by a teacher for be­ing in­so­lent. This dam­ag­ing episode has re­mained with me more than forty years later. I re­mem­ber lit­tle else from my time at that school apart from be­ing ter­ri­ble at play­ing net­ball.

Be­ing hit hard on the bot­tom did not shape me into be­ing bet­ter be­haved, it did not make me work harder, it did not make me re­spect that teacher. Quite the op­po­site, it made me ter­ri­fied of her. Hit­ting chil­dren does not make chil­dren grow up to be bet­ter adults. Not hit­ting them does.

I know lots of people read­ing this will say I have no right to tell them how to bring up their chil­dren. I ex­pect I will re­ceive sev­eral letters strongly dis­agree­ing with me, as I did the last time I stood up for the so-called An­ti­Smack­ing Bill when it was be­ing de­bated and I was the host of the Good Morn­ing Show on TVNZ.

I am cer­tainly not say­ing that I am a per­fect mother. I lose my cool and my daugh­ter mis­be­haves like any other child, but there are so many other ways of dis­ci­plin­ing chil­dren that are much more ef­fec­tive and le­gal. The most im­por­tant thing is that she is not scared of me. Who on earth would want their child to be scared of them?

Not be­ing phys­i­cally hurt by an­other per­son is a ba­sic hu­man right. If I rapped the knuck­les of my boss, I would be fired. Think about this when you next con­sider flick­ing your child on the hand to pro­duce a short, sharp st­ing, Mr Craig.

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