Sport can be very highly competitive, especially at the amateur levels. Pushing the boundaries and bending the rules is not uncommon, and players will often go to any lengths to get one up on the opposition. One of the ways to put your opposition off is to get inside their heads, usually by sledging.
Cricket is probably the most famous for on-field sledging and banter, but it’s a common occurrence in most sports. Take soccer, for example, which is my sport of choice. I’m a goalkeeper, so I’m no stranger to a bit of “friendly” banter with opposition strikers. I’ve had some great rivalries over the years and I’d like to think I’ve given as good as I’ve gotten with regards to insults and sledges coming my way. Most of the time, it’s just a friendly comment after a save. Something to the effect of “you’ve gotta do better than that to get it past me.” I have also been known, after saving a penalty in a grand final shoot out, to take the ball back, give it to the striker who just missed and tell them to try again. Nothing too outlandish, but it does the job.
I bring this up because I’ve just finished playing a soccer game, in which I was supposedly sledged. I didn’t hear the actual comment but one of my team-mates did. I’m actually pretty insulted that it wasn’t something better. I’m also a little upset that I didn’t hear it, as I wasn’t given a right of reply. Rule Number One in sledging – make sure your intended target actually hears what you say. Otherwise, it really is pointless.
What was the alleged sledge? “How old is your wife?” Now, for those of you who are new here, I’m an out and proud lesbian, and I do have a wife (though not legally of course). This comment, I am guessing, was an attempt to use the gay = bad thing. Though I’d be more offended if she’d meant that my wife was old enough to be my grandmother, but since I know this player doesn’t even know my wife, that’s probably not the case. And so this brings me to the second rule of sledging – make sure it’s actually insulting enough to get a reaction. Otherwise, again, pretty pointless.
The Third Rule of sledging is really a no-brainer – make sure you can back up your words with actions. If you go around telling opposition players how bad they are, and your team isn’t on top? You look like a bit of an idiot. The team we played is actually pretty good, and we’re pretty close when it comes to results, so it’s always a tough match when we meet them. They were on the back foot for most of the match tonight though, so it was probably a better time for them to be concentrating on getting their own game right rather than having a go at ours.
Last, but not least, Rule Number Four – keep it relevant. Like I said, I’m a goalkeeper. I had seven goals put past me last week against a different opposition. Surely bringing that up would have had more affect than asking how old my wife is? As a side note, comments about spouses/children/parents are usually a no-go zone. Just ask Marco Materazzi, the Italian defender who was headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final after allegedly making a comment about Zidane’s wife.
So after careful consideration, and having had plenty of time to think on this, I’ve come up with a list of five Things I Could Have Said in reply, if I’d actually heard the comment.
“How old is your wife?”
- Why? You thinking of trading up?
- How old’s your sister again?
- Why? You wanna swap?
- Ask her yourself – she’s the one on the Harley
- Which one?
Admittedly, there’s not too much sting in my replies, but when all you have to work with is “how old is your wife?” there’s not really too much material you can use.
What do you think? What would you reply to that sledge? What’s been your favourite or funniest sledge – either to have given or received?
After all of that – how did the match end up? We won 2-0 and jumped into third spot on the ladder. Good job team!