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Unspectator sports

In a stunning finish at Wimbledon, one of the players missed the ball! Or maybe he didn’t get it over the net. Either way, an unforgettable moment.

There are some sports that should only be televised on a special cable station to which you can subscribe if you have any interest.

I had a brief flirtation with tennis years ago, so I kind of get what they are trying to do. Basically, you want to hit the ball where the other player isn’t. This goes on until somebody finally gets caught out of position or somebody, presumably from a lack of attention, hits the ball into, instead of over, the net. Yawn.

Handball is pretty similar, but without the huge, expensive court (they can play in about one-fourth of the space) and the players stand pretty close together so it is easier to keep them both in frame. All you need is a sidewalk by a wall and one of those pink, rubber balls. Sometimes the players hurt their hands.

Fencing used to be my sport, but if you tried to watch any of the Olympics coverage a few years back, you would have found yourself at a loss. There are a lot of whirling blades and stamping of feet for about 30 seconds, then a light goes on at one end of the strip or the other, indicating that when you blinked you missed the touch.

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Sabre is the worst. There is little finesse. The belligerents charge at each other, sabres flailing and a light goes on. If you thought you were going to see 10 minutes of Douglas Fairbanks you were sadly disappointed.

Then there was sailing. For a few years I tried to follow what was going on. I read the New York Times, the only paper that actually covered this activity, and then, having identified the contenders, managed to find some TV coverage. Bang! They start by firing a gun. This means they can cross the start line. Sailboats can’t hold still like horses so they sail around on one side of the starting line until the gun goes off, then charge across. Maybe charge is an exaggeration. I watched the different boats settle into their positions as they forged on toward the first marker.

Sailboats do not have bursts of speed, like a racehorse. They kind of coast along gradually creeping up on each other, sometimes passing, and sometimes passing illegally, which disqualifies them. Most of the fouling is a result of somebody cutting somebody else off so that they have to pull up short to avoid a collision. So the collision, the most exciting thing about racing, is off the table. At about this point in time they should probably fire that gun again, because I am dozing off.

Bang! You too, eh?

Bill Abrams studies sports of all kinds in Pine Plains.