A Rough Guide to Fieldsports

All field sports basically follow the same pattern: some people move a ball while others watch them doing it. Here's a rough guide to distinguish the various disciplines from another:

  • If there are two teams kicking a round ball around a medium sized lawn it's soccer.
  • If the ball is a bit off-round, the teams look rather wild, assemble in circles before kick off and shout maori war chants to frighten the opposite team into surrender, it's rugby.
  • If the players wear heavy body armour and the maori war chants are replaced by a crowd of over excited teenagers bobbing around on the side you're watching football.
  • Unless all this is happening on ice, the ball is a disc and the players use sticks to move the ball - then it's ice hockey.
  • Drop the foul language, the aggression and substitute the ice with a lawn again and you've got field hockey.
  • If the players just seem to practice by throwing a ball to the only player that could afford a club then it's baseball.
  • Unless the players are all clad in white and the guy with the club tries to hit a curious assembly of 5 wooden bits behind the one throwing the ball - then it's cricket.
  • If every player has got his own ball and more than one club it's golf.
  • If there is only one ball and it is shot rather gently through a series of loops with a sort of long handled wooden mallet instead of into a small hole in the ground, then it's croquet.
  • Make the handles of the mallets a bit longer, skip the loops and put the players onto horses: Polo.
  • If ordinary Polo seems a wee bit fast-paced, and, frankly, rather ordinary, exchange the horses with elephants and you get Elephant Polo. Might be difficult to form a team in the Home Counties, though.
  • For people who can't afford elephants and a mallet, of course there is always Cycle Ball, which is a bit like soccer played indoors but with the players mounted on bicycles and the rule that the ball must be moved by the wheels of the bicycles (I'm not too firm regarding the rules here, maybe the odd touch by the pedal is ok as well). Although this might not really be considered a "field sport" due to its more indoor nature.
  • To get back outdoors, and, of course, field sports: if the target is furry, feathery or scaled, not even off-round, moves very fast and is usually pursued by you (and you alone), then we have finally reached the other definition of Field Sports, i.e. hunting, fishing or shooting. But since that is generally not regarded as a "spectator sport" we will leave it as that.