Big thanks to comic Lee Evans and his Sports Direct sketch
I’m a big fan of sports shops. But if I’m honest, I’m a sports shop snob. I like sports shops that employ a host of expert staff, who have the knowledge and experience to guide me to the ideal pair of trainers or item of clothing to suit me. I don’t want to be sold footwear according to colour, fashion or trends. I want trainers that suit my running gait, fit perfectly and will keep me running in comfort for many miles. (It’s rather like going to an electrical or computer retailer. I need an expert to guide me to the right product.)
So I buy my running trainers from specialist sports shops such as Achilles Heel, Greaves Sports, Run 4 It and Run and Become. I’ve also heard good things about Run Urban. These shops have staff who go the extra mile to make sure your footwear and clothing is fit for the exact purpose.
Call me a sports shop snob, if you want!
Then there are the “other” sports shops. Sorry, but I said I was a bit of a sports shop snob. These are the shops with rails and rails and shelves and shelves of mismatched clothing and many different styles of trainers, but not an employee in sight who a) has a clue about the different sports b) only knows that trainers go on your feet and not how to fit them.
So, I would normally avoid these shops. They’re not for me. They might be for other people looking for nice, comfy sports clothing but for people hoping to buy clothes and trainers fit for purpose these shops would be my last choice.
My trip to a non-specialist sports shop!
Except, just before Christmas my dad asked me for a favour. To cut a long story short, dad had a fall which badly injured his leg, which means he is wearing a splint, which means he has to find comfortable trousers to fit over the splint, which means he was on the hunt for a pair of tracksuit pants. He didn’t want to spend a lot of money because he wouldn’t, as a rule, wear tracksuit trousers. So I said I’d pop into the sports shops in Breahead Shopping Centre, near Glasgow, while doing some Christmas shopping.
The shop is Sports Direct and even as I stepped over the threshold I knew I was going to hate it. There were so many rails of so many different styles of clothes and for all kinds of sports lined up in such a jumble that I almost walked straight back out again. The store was gloomy and cramped and it seemed as though the male, female and kids sections were all mixed up together. I could have been wrong but it felt overwhelmingly shambolic. (I get the same feeling in TK Maxx so it might be that I’m just a useless shopper of bargain clothes).
However, I needed to go on. I had told dad I would look for the tracksuit bottoms. Dad is over 6ft tall, with long legs (size 34″) and he was looking for an XL or XXL waistband. I finally located a few rails of cheap-looking tracksuit bottoms. Cheap was what dad had asked for. So that seemed perfect. I found the cotton fabric style he’d been looking for (there were actually several rails of these in no particular order). I found many trousers in XL, XXL and even XXXL. They came in greys, blues and blacks. Now for a longer leg length. But although I searched through all the trousers they all seemed to be in the same length: Short.
What if you’re more than 5ft 4in tall?
I held these tracksuit trousers up against myself and they weren’t even long enough for me, and I’m significantly shorter than my dad. In fact, I’m around the same height as an average man yet all the trousers seemed too short.
Perhaps Sports Direct knows something I don’t. Maybe all men with XL, XXL and XXXL waists looking for trackshuit trousers in Glasgow are very short. Very short indeed. Or perhaps these men like their trousers to be three-quarter length.
I would have asked for assistance, if I could have located a shop assistant. To be honest, I couldn’t tell who was working in the shop and who were the shoppers rummaging around the numerous shelves and rails. (I know, I know, I’m sounding old, grumpy and snobby…) I suddenly started to feel sweaty and nauseous. I needed to get out. Sorry dad, but I just couldn’t face looking further into the shop for the possibility of a rail that sold XL in longer length tracksuit bottoms.
Today, someone sent me this YouTube video of comic Lee Evans and his experience in a branch of Sports Direct. So perfect Lee. Thanks for that!