THE BLOG
29/07/2012 10:57 BST | Updated 27/09/2012 06:12 BST

The Armchair Spectator: Dancing Horses, Flaming Arrows - and Handball

The sun has set on the first full day of the Olympics, although at the time of writing the matches are not yet over. In fact, I have one eye on Brazil v Turkey in the volleyball, and another on Natalia Partyka's excellent form in the table tennis. If I had a third eye, I'm almost certain it'd be watching the basketball or the boxing.

The sun has set on the first full day of the Olympics, although at the time of writing the matches are not yet over. In fact, I have one eye on Brazil v Turkey in the volleyball, and another on Natalia Partyka's excellent form in the table tennis. If I had a third eye, I'm almost certain it'd be watching the basketball or the boxing.

This is one of the wonderful things about the Games. It entices you to watch sports you'd never normally tune into, and get a glimpse of how hard the athletes have worked to make it to this moment. And it shows. Louis Smith, one of the GB gymnasts who were inspired on an unprecedented first day, was reduced to tears after his superb effort on the pommel. Alexandre Vinokourov wept as the gold medal in the men's cycling road race was placed around his neck, whilst Cavendish felt only, as he tweeted, "the weight of a nation".

There was archery (although, sadly, without the use of longbows and flaming arrows), shooting, crazy dancing horses (later renamed dressage); all of which I would never normally bother spending my time watching, but today felt myself transfixed. These are the forgotten sports, eclipsed by the track and field events which are so synonymous with the Games, but treasured by so many. Their lack of exposure should never be mistaken for inferiority: the table tennis in itself is a sight to behold, the ball just a white blur as it spins and zips over the net.

It was with excitement, then, that I chose to watch handball from the list of choices offered by the BBC website - whose coverage, by the way, has been excellent so far. A sport I have only previously been vaguely familiar with, handball (or team handball as it's officially known) has been a part of the Olympic games since 1936.

Goodness only knows how it's lasted for so long.

Handball reminds me of the kind of game you'd play during the school lunch break when all you had was a small ball and coats for goalposts. If you can catch and throw, you can play handball. Maybe that's the attraction: it's a safety net which catches all the netball and basketball rejects, giving them a larger target to aim at and no discernible rules.

Still, that's just my opinion. For a sport to even be considered for the Olympics it has to be widely played in at least 75 countries across four continents, so someone must enjoy it; and, unlike softball and baseball, it looks likely that handball will not appear on the list of rejected Olympic sports any time soon. Unlike tug of war, that is, which was sacked in 1920, after just two decades in the Games. Now that I would pay handsomely to see - not least because I reckon us chubby Brits would have an excellent weight advantage.