Monday, November 2, 2009

Camanachd, Iománaíocht

We ain't been out much lately - between finishing the draft of Snakes and M's exams it's been all about holing up inside beside the stove. So when we found out about the Shinty v. Hurling match last Saturday we had to go. I watched a hurling match ten years ago in Galway and promptly forgot all the rules, thinking I would have little need for this knowledge later in life. Shinty is huge in the Highlands - it has its own radio show and people line up for autographs from the players. It's also rumoured to be the inspiration for Quidditch. Hurling's a bit more widespread, and any Irish pub worth its salt will have a hurling stick on the wall. It was a fun match, violent and aggressive like any good sport, and with the added dimension of weapons. The occasional crack of the bat and broken sticks added excitement.

When I wrote for Squash Magazine, I was repeatedly amazed by the commitment the players had to their sport. They worked out for hours every day, played squash whenever they could, watched videos of themselves playing, analyzed videos of others playing - it really is an obsession for these players.

I was raised on Sunday afternoon football, college basketball in the winter/spring, and baseball in the summer. Where I grew up, soccer was the 'alternative' sport. Perhaps that's why I find it fascinating that people become obsessed with a minor sport, a sport that won't gain them Olympic glory or a Nike endorsement. People play because they love it, not because they want recognition.

I wonder if the arts is the same. My friend Joan is an artist, and she's often posed the question of whether she should create art for herself or for the market. The same with writing. I'd like to think that if you do something from your soul, the recognition will follow; or, is the process of creating, the ritual of warming up and playing a match, is that enough? Should it be enough?

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