October 15 , 2006
Up until this weekend I would have said that sports are a universal language. Now I realize that while to a certain extent this might be true, different cultures have very different sporting dialects!
It seems like every time we meet someone we’re asked about our favorite sports. My answer of “horseback riding” inevitably draws shocked cries of “Honto?!” (Really?!) and “Sugoi!” (Wow!), so I doubt that I’ll be doing that anytime soon. However, if you answer with something like basketball, volleyball, soccer, or badminton, you are inevitably invited to join them in a game. Actually, you’re invited even if you don’t answer this, come to think of it. Well, last Friday Gerard, Than, and I finally decided to take our friend Kaku up on his offer.
First of all, I should mention that in Japan you not only have to take your shoes off in every house you enter, but in the gym, too. Thus, all the Japanese students come equipped with a pair of “indoor shoes.” However, the first time we four Centre students entered the gym we were completely ignorant of this rule, and ended up slipping and sliding (and falling) rather ungracefully over the basketball court in our socks. If you’ve never played basketball in socks on recently waxed wood
floors, I highly recommend trying it. Since then, Gerard and Than have come up with an extra pair of tennis shoes each, and have looked significantly less foolish for it. My indoor shoes are in the mail.
So, back to Friday: when we showed up around 7 p.m. to play we were expecting a small group casually volleying the ball back and forth. Instead there were enough people to break up into four teams, plus spectators and scorekeepers. As my teammates dove enthusiastically for low-flying balls and generally played with skill that I couldn’t hope to match,