The games you'll once again be playing on December 25.
Santa’s a pretty switched-on bloke. As well as knowing if you’ve been naughty or nice all year, he’s also clued-up as to which sports you’re into. (That’s kinda creepy, actually). If he delivers a sports equipment gift to you this year, bring it along to grandma’s or to you cousins’ house because, without any sport on TV, that ball or bat is going to be vital for keeping yourself and your relos entertained throughout the day. What makes the following sports so great is they can be played and enjoyed by anyone, regardless of gender, age or athletic ability. Some may argue further that, if it can’t be played on Christmas Day with stubby in hand, let it go through to the ‘keeper. On that note, we present our top five Christmas Day sports ...
No need to dust off the gear for the big day, because Santa will be delivering someone a cricket set on Christmas morning. The highlight of such a gift is the stumps and bails combo, which bring a tear to the Aussie suburban eye when erected properly on Dad’s specially mown lawn. Knocking over a set of stumps via direct hit at Christmas is probably the greatest sporting achievement most of us will ever accomplish ... even if it does mean running out your 11-year-old niece who is sprinting home towards an invisible crease. (She said “safe”, so she’s not out.) The smaller the backyard, the better, too. Else you’ll have to food-bribe a young-un to chase the ball into “the outfield”. Just be careful, though; the two German Shepherds next door have been watching that juicy new rubber cricket ball through the fence all day. Six and out could also mean six and “game over”.
You could pit the reigning world number-one and number-two players against each other at this game and it would still look like it’s not being played properly. Unless both participants master the art of backhand immediately, this pursuit can get ugly – fast. Either one person is always hitting it too hard, or the other person isn’t hitting it hard enough. Stand closer. Ready? Thock. Man down. And if you do hit the ball properly, the shudder that travels up your arm after you’ve thwacked the ball with that non-forgiving moulded plastic paddle could have you at the physio for months. Totem tennis usually ends one of two ways – either when the ball is flogged so hard it is dislodged from its rope, or when the dog wants to play, too ... And you’re not going to lock the dog up on Christmas Day ... are you?
Quite possibly the most dangerous game that could be played within striking distance of seven nieces and nephews and five grandchildren. Meanwhile, try telling someone unfamiliar with the rules of darts that the rectangle in the inner circle in the “20” section is the most valuable part on the board and not the bullseye, and they’ll look at you as if you have two heads. This same person won’t be able to land their dart anywhere within the scoring section, but they will quickly build a skill for hitting the metal frame. Every throw. Without fail. And darts suffering this fate always seem to land point-first on the concrete below. If you’re the host, hope someone bought you some new darts for Christmas ...
Also lovingly and traditionally referred to by the non-expert as petanque, or that weird sport they play in Paris with the metal balls. The components for this game (eight said balls with various circle designs on them, a wooden “jack” ball, and barely decipherable instructions) usually come beautifully packaged in a pine box about the size of a rat’s coffin. One of those rules, incidentally, is that adults must have beer or wine in-hand while playing. Otherwise it’s cheating. The real appeal of petanque is that it is eas accessible for hunters of cheap Christmas presents. Available at all two-buck shops for $21.
Shuttle what? Is this like badminton? This thing isn’t even a ball ... Why does it have feathers on it? Let’s use a tennis ball instead. Mum, Jason broke the shuttle tennis racquet. He’s using a tennis ball. But Dad’s too um ... “relaxed” to care about your broken tennis bat. And don’t even attempt to set the net up unless you’ve completed a degree in engineering or construction. Anyway, it’s too hot today ... Merry Christmas.