Shooting butt, Great Ayton Moor

As a 17-year-old, I played wing forward for my school rugby team. We were unassailable, the best in the county. Against one school I remember a 70+ point score. We took it in turns to score. Can such a one-sided game really be classed as a sport? A no lesser body as the United Nations defines sport as including “all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction. These include: play; recreation; organized, casual or competitive sport; and indigenous sports or games.” I used to snigger at ice dancing saying that anything which requires sequins and makeup is not a sport but under the UN definition I guess it probably is.

The photo shows a shooting butt. Designs vary but essentially it is a structure in which punters hide and wait for grouse to be driven overhead which can then be shot with shotguns. The aim to kill as many birds as possible. Not dissimilar to the Whac-A-Mole arcade game popular in the last century. Proponents call it a sport, a one-sided sport where there are overwhelming odds that the grouse will be the losers. No way is it competitive unless you can claim that “my bag’s bigger than your bag”.

So whatever the result for England’s latest “sporting heroes” in their football match tomorrow it will be a win for proper sport.
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