It’s been suggested that we make bell ringing a sport – pull the other one is the obvious answer to me. How can you make something like Campanology a sport? The argument is that because it’s a physical activity that requires a lot of stamina, like a lot of sports, it should be deemed as a sport. Hang on a minute, decorating and painting, brick laying, car manufacturing, coal mining and a host of other activities are physically demanding and require stamina, but I’ve yet to see a coal miner hacking away at a seem of black gold at the olympics.
Surely it’s a hobby? Don’t the majority of bell ringers do it for the love of it? Campanologists, the official term for a bell ringer, say that to attract more people into the ringing of bells, it needs to be classed as a sport, making it more attractive and possibly boost funding. A sport is competitive, yet bell ringing isn’t, is it? When the Campanologists meet for a bell ringing practice, they don’t swing on those ropes to see who can bang out 15 dongs in the fastest time, do they?
The ‘well known’ magazine Ringing World (it’s well known amongst the Campanologists) has received letters from its readers insisting the activity is an art and a sport, as demonstrated by regular ‘striking competitions’. I know I have no experience of this sort of thing, but how does a striking competition work? Do you have to get your dongs in time with the dings or is it vice versa, or maybe two dongs and one ding followed by two more dongs? The mind boggles.
I love to hear the sound of church bells ringing, especially on a beautiful summers day. Yet, I never think about the people making it all happen, hanging on to those ropes for dear life as two tonnes of solid bell swings back and forth up to a 100 feet above them. Perhaps they can combine the upswing of the bell, where it lifts them off the ground, and at the highest point let go and high jump over a pole vault bar set at more than 12 feet from the ground. That’s the only way I can see it as ever being a sport.
If you’d like more information on ‘Ringing World’.