Well, I can’t believe that this is it!
It’s been two years since I became overwhelmed with the plethora of sporting options on offer to consumers and began The Year Without Sport.
Keeping up with the relentless saturation of the NBA basketball and AFL football seasons, to go along with soccer – Australian A-League, English Premier League and the Champions League, as well as WWE, UFC, Major League Baseball, the NFL, tennis and cricket, was just too much.
Desperately wanting something more from life than just creating enough time to watch ‘x’ amount of coverage each night, I went cold turkey.
Or, to be more poignant –
It’s a move I’ll never regret and is one I’m particularly proud of.
Soon after, the blog began… –
It’s ironic that the capital letter ‘m’ in the ‘wingdings’ font is an image of a bomb about to explode. I’ll give you a minute now for the inevitable check on Word to see if this is in fact true … … there? Satisfied? Now, the reason I know this is because the ‘My year without sport’ heading at the top of the page I’m drafting this on is in that font, just in case my wife happens to pass by and looks over my shoulder to see what I’m typing. You see, right now, this is a secret from everyone in my life.
Ahh, the long paragraphs, the bolded words to draw your attention to particular phrases. What a rookie! Still, I didn’t know if anyone would read it, or if it would make an impact, still don’t really… (Having said that, it’s still my favourite piece of any that I wrote, with maybe my letter to my son a close second…)
But what I did know is that I wanted to be intentional about engaging with this process, about not just finding other crutches to waste my time on – tv, movies, music et al, but engaging in what was truly important – my wife, my faith, my family and friends and my community.
And now, my son.
There were things to give up along the way – an amazing NBA Finals series with the evil Miami Heat getting knocked off by the Dallas Mavericks, an epic Cats – Pies AFL Grand Final in 2011, seeing Manchester United in person at Old Trafford, I repeat, in person… (Double italics, still a rookie…!), cricket innings of magnificence from Clarke and Warner, Sam Stosur dominating Serena in the US Open Final on S11, the Bombers going ballistic to start last season before the drugs wore off, Cadel winning le Tour, the New England Patriots in the SuperBowl, Man U clinching the title and WrestleFreakingMania (It’s a sport, don’t make me link back to the two blogs that covered this. Whoops, too late…)
Were the sacrifices worth it? Of course. Was it a perfect journey? Of course not. There were things I could have done better – been more bullish about finding alternative focal activities to immerse myself in, staying offline and actively avoiding sports results are two that instantly spring to mind.
But it’s given me a deep richness of living and an incredible perspective on my priorities and has created an ongoing dialogue with many people I know.
Two years, almost 150 blog posts, 23,000 blog visits and 141,000+ words later, sport no longer has the hold it once had on me. Was I disappointed when the Lakers got bounced from the playoffs or when Kobe snapped his Achilles?
Yeah, a biiit.
But that’s about it.
You move on
Life moved on for me pretty quickly, and not a single ounce of my energy or being was tied to the result of the NBA season, or the current footy season.
When I started the YWS, I found it amazing just how quickly I didn’t miss it.
First came relief, then came positive alternatives, admittedly there was some boredom (pre Joshie!) and the aforementioned tough moments (in person!)
You will never know the hold that your vices have on you until you give them up.
You can say all the right things – I’ve got in under control, there’s other people more obsessed than me, we’re allowed just one creature comfort, why should I,
Until you actually experience the alternate reality, your sliding doors moment, it can all be a mere mirage from a judgmental outlier who think they know better than you how your life should operate.
Stop making excuses. Give yourselves a little room to breathe without –
- Your iPhone
- Buying clothes
- The tv on
- The iPad
And see what comes your way.
Trust me, you’ll never look back.
I’m stirred and inspired when I see problem gamblers endeavour to go 100 days without. I’m firmly on their side and wish to God that the abuse of ads for gambling odds during games would cease. These people who have gone public on the fightforyou site have such courage.
Let them watch a game they love in peace.
I guess if there were any final words I wanted to get across, they would be to be flexible people. Be open to hearing about life could be different. Don’t become so rigid in all your ways that nothing becomes untouchable – from sports viewing, to how you spend your money, how you parent, how long you’re online, your attitude to the poor; be an open book.
I’m so blessed in that I get to re-engage with a medium I love (sport!) – for all the positives that it can bring – bringing people together. There’s nothing better.
God bless you.
Thank you to all those in the last two years who have taken the time to read these pages, offer a supportive word, clicked ‘Like’ on Facebook, written a comment, or better still, questioned some of your own habits; allowed yourself to be malleable.
A special special thank you to Brendan Hughes, who has been a huge supporter of this and of me throughout.
To Jo Jo, you have been a rock of support and your belief in me means so much. I appreciated(d) all your hours of proof reading, well, until Joshy came along. 😉
Ben, your behind the scenes insights, challenges and encouragement kept me on my toes. You’re a star, but I now challenges You to go 12 months without Eurovision. No? Didn’t think so… =>
And for my regular comment people of Matt, Diddle, Craig and Willo and whoever else might have had their say, thanks, guys. It’s been awesome to have your input along the way.
And to my great mate Craig, you’re an absolute gun for allowing me the ‘odd’ week off and writing guest pieces for the blog. Really appreciate your willingness to help out. Let’s hope our boys can turn things around in the next few weeks! 🙂
And to my son, Josh. My love, it was a gift from God that the YWS came along before you did. The choice to disengage myself from one of my vices enabled me to engage with coffee, friendship, my family, and, to you.
I would do it all again if sport got in the way. Though from the faces you often make at me, I think it’s the laptop and the iPhone that will be getting turfed first. And you probably have a point.
I hope and pray your innocence and love of the simple things continue to teach me and all of us about life and what is truly important – that the joys of life are in everyone you meet, that a smile can change someone’s day, that loud shouts of joy should be a daily ritual and that a cuddle from someone you love is the most precious gift of all. I love you.