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PAUL SIMONITI'S COLUMN: WEEKEND PERSONALLY: The highs and lows of family sport addiction.

SHE is, to any sports-loving male, a godsend, a rare creature indeed.

With the possible exception of live world championship angling (and we're united in opposition there), my wife loves watching sport, any sport, on the telly.

So no EastEnders v Test match squabbles in our house then. Give us cricket over our favourite soap any day. Or rugby. Even golf.

I know, I know, I'm a very lucky man, but this position of immense privilege can be a double-edged sword, believe me.

Take the World Cup finals. For months, I'd been looking forward to football's greatest showcase with the sort of schoolboy relish that might be described as childish, perhaps obsessive, certainly sad.

Now it's been and gone, all I can say is: thank God it's all over until 2006.

How come? Well, because we were like-minded on an issue that divided innumerable families elsewhere, there was simply no argument; we'd waited years for this month-long sporting feast and allowed our enthusiasm to get the better of us.

We watched virtually everything - every early morning game, every lunchtime game - with a grim conviction that surely there would be a classic match just around the corner.

There was no such animal. The routine became tedious to the point that we really didn't care whether or not we saw the final. We watched it of course, but celebrated joylessly, like an athlete who'd hit the wall and still survived to complete his first marathon.

And then along came Wimbledon . . .

Just as I'm extricating myself tentatively, for the first time in weeks, from couch potato heaven (legs curled under bum, left elbow glued to chair arm, left hand supporting dozing head), along comes the lowpoint of my sporting year and my bones start to ossify all over again

No matter that Kim is predictably addicted, I cannot bring myself to get excited about an event that irritates the hell out of me.

It's the trivia that irks most. Why, for instance, do crowds cheer at the slightest provocation? Is rolling out the rain cover on centre court really worth a round of applause? Did Cliff Richard's 'impromptu' Singing In The Rain interlude a few years ago deserve such unqualified praise?

As for their oh so English sense of fair play . . . forget it. Watch any match involving

Tim Henman. See how the crowd applauds wildly when an opponent double faults. (As for 'hero' Henman himself, I've never forgiven him for being expelled after smashing a ball at a ball-girl not so long ago).

Worst of all, where are these fans for the rest of the year? No wonder British tennis continues to lurch from crisis to crisis when so few can be bothered to support the game for 50 weeks a year.

At least Wimbledon is out of the way for another summer, clearing the way for us to desert the TV and get out into the garden.

After we've watched the Tour de France, the British Open, the Ryder Cup and another Premiership football campaign, that is.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 13, 2002
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