The first DBS co-curricular was to Croke Park. I have a mild interest in some sports, but I was not overly excited about this visit. Also, I did not really understand the two major sports in Ireland: hurling and Gaelic football.
However, after the tour my perception changed. This is due in great part to the passion of the tour guide. By listening to his explanations, you could really understand the importance of these sports to the Irish and the symbolism of Croke Park. For example, “Hill 16” is related to the Easter Rising of 1916. Although only amateur sports, hurling and Gaelic football still draw crowds that rival those of professional, and it does not diminish the exuberance of the fans.
I experienced this first hand when I attended a Gaelic football match on February 7. Inspired by the visit to Croke Park, I decided to see what the game was all about. From the minute I stepped onto the bus to take me to Croke Park I knew I was in for an intense experience. The entire bus was filled with fans heading to the match. I did not have to worry about getting lost once I got off it, I just had to follow the crowd. Even though I did not know the exact rules, it was easy to pick up the general idea. I found myself cheering (and yelling at the referee) along with the crowd.
This seems to be a game for all people. On the bus, there were two teenage girls heading to the match. I sat between a middle-aged couple and an older man, and was behind a family with young children. The little boy was perhaps the loudest from that group.
If I had not gone to Croke Park on that co-curricular, and learned about the history of the stadium and a little about the games, I probably would not have tried to go to a match. That would have been a shame, because Gaelic football seems like the perfect spectator sport for me. I am going to try to attend another match this weekend, and hopefully see hurling this time!