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If Sports Were Band T-shirts

Michael Oliver



If sports were band T-shirts, you wouldn’t be too surprised to see those ragamuffins up Cuba Street sporting the latest in handball gears, or the hottest print-on-black lawn bowls get up. That’s because this week’s column is dedicated to sports that are so incredibly indie and alternative, that pretentious scarf-wearers would be clouding up your MDIA 205 tutorial with discussing them rather than, say, The Decemberists (not that there’s anything wrong with The Decemberists at all, right me hearties?).
The opening set is dedicated to the much maligned sport of table tennis. Mocked for its dinky little paddles and penchant for rampant nerdery, it has seemingly found a niche here in Godzone, with our own national table tennis side, the Black Bats, in the midst of preparing for the Commonwealth championships in June. Success-wise, our paddle-friendly ping-pongers haven’t enjoyed much, with a fourth place in the women’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games being the only blip on the radar. None the less, the team that has been assembled is a nice mix of youth and experience, a concoction described by Table Tennis New Zealand as being “strong”. It won’t be long ‘til we see how strong we are at the pong, am I wrong?
The crowd’s more-or-less fizzing by now, so what better time than now to introduce the aged squires of desire – New Zealand’s lawn bowls team. Bowls New Zealand’s website is perhaps the fanciest of the three I sampled, and it certainly has the results to back it up. New Zealand has enjoyed a notable bounty of success in bowls over the years, despite being drawn with Australia for this year’s world team championship. According to the fancy-smancy site, “The World Teams Cup is a new event on the world circuit, incorporating men’s and women’s teams from the leading countries and is played in sets and on indoor surfaces for television audiences.” This is a bold step for the sport, but innovation breeds exclamation. Needless to say that if the New Zealand team doesn’t enter the arena to its own theme music and pyrotechnics, I’ll be severely disappointed.
Rowdiness and drunken euphoria has rendered the crowd a hapless mess, and dare I say it, it’s the perfect time to wheel out tonight’s main set. It may be regarded in many circles as something so ridiculous that it resembles more a primary school disco than a sport, but that’s not to say the sport of handball should be treated with any less enthusiasm. Regardless of the fact that the web site hasn’t been updated in over a year, and that it also includes a rather amusing ‘Handball music video’, there appears to be a real attempt to turn this maddening melee into something resembling the makings of a legitimate sport. The excitement is palpable – as is the riot billowing through the crowd right now. This gig’s a disaster. I swear to God, you sports better have enjoyed this exposure, because it could be a while before we see you on stage again.