Eat Sweat Play: How it Changed My View of Sport

Posted June 17, 2017 by Ely in Discussions, Reviews / 4 Comments

Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives Book Cover Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives
Anna Kessel
June 16th 2016

What does it mean to be a sporty woman in the 21st century? From the launch of Net-A-Sporter, serving up sports clothing for fashionistas, to the introduction of #plankie as the new Instagram selfie for yoga bunnies; exercise for women has finally gone mainstream.

But if sweating has never been so hot for female celebrities, then why are there still so many obstacles for girls and women when it comes to sport? Why do girls still hate school sports lessons? Why is sport consistently defined as male territory, with TV cameras replicating the male gaze as they search out the most beautiful women in the crowd? Will women ever flock to watch football, rugby and boxing in their millions? Or turn up to the park with friends for a Sunday morning kickabout? How long do we have to wait to see the first multi-millionaire female footballer or basketball player?

Eat Sweat Play is an engaging and inspirational work by sports writer Anna Kessel.

Before we start, quite of you said you were interested/excited about this post. I just want to thank you for that. I was considering scrapping this post because I didn’t think anyone would read it, but due to your comments, I decided to keep it. I’m proud of this post. I love this book, and I hope the rest of you do too.

The Story

I’ve never been a lover of sport. In fact, before this year I’d never even been to a sporting event. I never felt like I had access to sport. I remember in Year 8, we got to sign up for the sports we wanted—I was excited because there was a netball team and the sport was at its height of popularity with my friends and I that year. My friend and I made the lowest team, and we were out of our minds with excitement. Then a teacher pulled me aside and asked if I was allowed to do sport.

I remember feeling so embarrassed. So disheartened. I got medically cleared to play at school, and I did but the next term when we selected our Winter sport, all my excitement was gone. I let myself be excluded in the competition that term and got a new doctor’s note to say I could no longer participate in P.E class.

I never participated in sports events after that, and no one questioned it after a look at my leg.

2017: The Year of Change

I don’t know what it was, but I started this year will a new interest in sport. I accepted that there is very little I can do with my leg—some days walking around the house is hard enough, but I wanted to try. As I get older, I know that my leg is going to get worse and I told myself I had to try something. I’ve yet to actually do anything, but that’s a story for another time.

I suddenly had a new interest in watching sport. More specifically, ice hockey. As you might have seen, Michelle and I went to an ice hockey game this year. I loved it. The atmosphere was incredible, and it was just a lot of fun. I definitely want to go back. But I’d never had this interest before. Sport was always my dad’s thing. Just as video games were my brother’s, and reading was mine and mum’s. But I wanted to have new experiences this year, and try different things! Sport seemed like a viable option.

I walked away from that ice hockey match feeling energised and enthused about sport in a way that I hadn’t before. I wanted more of it.

Eat Sweat Play

Here’s where Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel comes in. I’ve had my eye out for this book for ages, but I never found a copy. I finally managed to get my hands on one from the library, and the day it came in, I picked it up and read half of it in one go.

I was messaging Michelle throughout saying ‘this book!’ and ‘my life is changing’, and all that sort of stuff. With us doing our Adventures with T&T posts, we’ve both been thinking a lot about new things we can try and places we can go. This book made me want to throw on some workout clothes and join a sport immediately.

A lot of the book is about women’s place in sport, both watching and playing. I’d never really thought about how we get shaped into believing sport isn’t for us. And that made me angry, because I wholeheartedly believe that we, as women, can do whatever we choose to do. It made me want to attend every sporting event possible just to prove I could.

I’ve read a few books about feminism that I enjoyed, but ultimately couldn’t find myself in. Disability is often missing from discussions of feminism, and I hate it. So as much as I was enjoying this book, I had that in the back of mind the whole time. Lo and behold, we got disability. I honestly could have cried when Kessel starting talking about disabled women’s places in sport. I felt like I was standing up to that teacher who pulled me aside. I was saying ‘no, I can do this. You can’t stop me’. I felt euphoric.

How it’s changed

I bought myself my first pair of workout clothes the day after I started this book. I’ve yet to use them, but I now own a pair of leggings for the first time. I’ve looked out sports that I can join, even with my limited abilities and I just have to decide which one to try first. I’m finally ready to get back out there and be active having given that up at 13.

I owe that to this book.

Please read it.

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4 responses to “Eat Sweat Play: How it Changed My View of Sport

  1. I first saw your rating of this book on Goodreads and added it to my to-read list. After reading this though, I’m tracking down a copy asap. I’ve never really been a girl who loves sports. In high school, I often felt embarrassed because I was bigger than my friends and I wasn’t athletic. Running made me feel awful, especially before I had the breast reduction. And while I do have some sports now that I love, I can never manage to stick to it. I think I always feel like I can’t? I don’t know. I really want to change that. I want to start running again, because I’ll be participating in a 6km run for breast cancer research in September. I want to start up a consistent yoga practice, and get better. I want to be stronger than I am now. So I’m going to read this book.

  2. Sounds like a great read. I was in a pub showing a rugby match a few months ago and a completely sober, ordinary looking man looked at the TV, looked around, and pretty much shouted ‘why aren’t they showing the real rugby?!’ The match being shown was part of the women’s 6 Nations. Stuff like that pisses me off so much. So many people think that sport = men’s sport and um, no, that’s not it at all.

  3. I’ve never even heard of this book until now but it sounds interesting. I’m super glad you have read it and brought something out of it because that’s what books should be about!!

    Was also wondering if you was hosting the Make Me Read It Readathon this year? Hope You Are!!

  4. I was never a huge fan of high school sports because I’m not a competitive person, but I love watching hockey so I’m glad you got to go to a match and discover that!
    I’m so glad you liked this book and I love that it talks about disabled athletes because it’s so inspiring! Another thing is that even though some of the womens’ teams win more championships they still don’t get the same pay as the men do. I can’t wait to read it this book and be inspired! I really hope these walls and stigmas around women doing sports breaks down. Girls can be tougher than boys 😛