© Bruce Goodman 22 June 2015
Jim hated rugby. He went to an all-boys secondary school, where rugby was compulsory. In a single season rugby would turn a boy into a man.
Jim hated the violent tackles, the scrums, the rucking. He hated the aggression.
“Make yourself angry,” said the coach, “and you’ll play better.”
Jim hated the culture that went with it; the brouhaha, the ruckus, the hubbub that excitedly surrounded those in the top teams.
“There’s one of them now! There he goes! Let me touch him!” It’s like everyone in the school except Jim was a latent homosexual, and yet the inference was that the gay life was Jim’s preference because he hated rugby. He hated rugby, the queer.
Jim hated the mud, the smell of liniment, the boots, the sprigs. He hated the showers after the game, fifteen young guys all crammed into the open shower unit. He hated the talk.
“Yours is bigger than mine,” like they wanted to borrow it or something. “Fuck yeah.”
Jim hated the whole damn thing. He loathed school because of it. He dreaded life for the fifteen weeks of the season. Boy into man… boy into man…
One day a scrum collapsed and Jim broke his neck.
The school was shocked, chastened, mortified. They consoled themselves. All teams wore black armbands the following week. Jim’s obituary read:
He died doing something we all love.