Scotty Stevenson: Questions that need to be answered

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Sometimes you wish you could just sit on the couch and watch a game without the endless questions, but what can you do? You love them, so you just put up with it.

It shouldn't be this hard, I mean you've given them your heart, your soul, your solemn promise - hell, you would die for them if it came down to it. But still, they're unsatisfied. After all the sacrifices you have made for them, they want more. They want to know why the guy wearing the No2 jersey is throwing the ball into the thing where all the other big guys are lining up. They want to know who the team in green is and why the man with the crooked nose has got a bandage around his head.

All you want to do is watch the action. You can see that No6 clearly left his feet at the breakdown, hence the penalty, and you know that the other team is so obviously superior in almost every facet of the game (and especially on the scoreboard) that they have turned down the shot at goal for the sheer pleasure of scoring another try. Who wouldn't do the same in this particular situation? You ask this rhetorically, of course, but good luck with that.

Do not be tempted into the recesses of the rhetorical here; the torch of literality will find you, even in the deepest hole you dig for yourself.

"So, if a player tackles another player, he is allowed to get the ball, but only if he lets the player go and is standing up, but kind of bending down at the same time, and only if two other players aren't wrestling each other in the same place at that moment, right?"

Yes, sort of.

"So why did he kick it?" "Is that a good kick?" "What happens to it now?" "Does the crowd give the ball back when they catch it, or can they take it home?" "So it's always the guy wearing the No2 jersey who throws the ball into the thing where all the other big guys are lining up?"

Because. Not really. It's called a lineout. They give it back. Yes, but it used to be the winger ... No he's a hooker. Yes, a hooker. I don't know why.

Which isn't true. You do know why, but having made negligible progress on the lineout front, any attempt at an acceptable explanation of the various roles at scrum time is futile. You have more chance of getting them to clean your car than you do of interpreting, at a fundamental level, the vastly fabulous fulcrums and mysteries of the modern-day scrum.

At this point you are best to keep quiet, to feign indignation at a refereeing decision, or a sloppy pass, or - and surely nothing could be more worthy of exasperation and animus - a defensive bomb, to take a swig on your beer, and to look away as if you are almost at the point of giving up on the game yourself.

Then, and only then, will come the great searching questions. The first will inevitably be, "So what happened there?" This will be followed, after the most cursory of explanations, with "So that wasn't a very good thing to do then?" And a simple "no" is the only answer that question requires.

But then, just when you are sure there can be no more questions, no more enquiries, no more high-pitched inquest; just when you think it's safe to get through six phases without the forensics, they come in for a cuddle, and watch the game in unison with with you, and in silence, for all of a nanosecond, before they ask you the best question of all: "Dad, can I go there and watch a game with you?"

And of course you say "yes", knowing full well that it'll be all about the hot dogs and the lemonade, the mascots and the free flags, the late night and the car ride and the walk hand-in-hand into the park.

And knowing full well that there'll be a hundred more interruptions as you sit in the stand and watch the next one; that they'll cheer when a try is scored, even though they haven't got the faintest idea what's going on. And you'll gladly suffer through it all over again, treasuring every second as a dad. Knowing all the while that your inadequate answers will never be a match for their endless questions.

Happy Father's Day. Now go and get a health check.

- NZ Herald

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