(There’s a nice photo [see above] on the cover of today’s Herald Sun of the Collingwood players who made the AFL All Australian team … and Leon Davis. I’ve only been out of the loop for 5 months, not 5 years, so I’ll simply assume that his teammates felt uncomfortable asking him to step out of their photo.)
On Wednesday night, I head off to Europe for 3 weeks, therefore ending my direct contact with the AFL season. Sure there’s the internet and people that I know who are still interested, but the season for this Melbournian is done and dusted. Believe me on this, once you step away from the AFL-centred populous and media, you quickly realise what a tiny atom it is on the broader landscape. It just does not feel the same without the saturation provided in this city.
Initially, I planned my entire trip around the AFL season; it’s amazing how much has changed in just a short period of time. Originally, my intention was to fly out on the night of the last Saturday in September; the traditional slot for the Grand Final. This year, though, the game is falling on the first Saturday of October. Being a teacher, my hands are tied as to when I can travel, so I was always going to miss it, that is, unless I wanted to shorten my trip to 6 days … which was never going to happen!
For the two Preliminary Finals, I will be out and about in Copenhagen and for the big one, while my friends get up at 5.30am in Lisbon to find a bar (already located – they are keen!), I will be sleeping in and missing the whole thing.
The best day of the year
For many years, I genuinely felt as though the Grand Final was the best day of the year. Sure your birthdays are fun and Christmas can be, but for me, nothing could match the build up, excitement, drama and skill that the Grand Final provided. Without being condescending, I am almost sad that I once felt that way.
To place so much stock in one event that I have no direct link to points to an unhealthy reliance to an activity, that, once finished, leaves a strange unsatisfied feeling; empty, wanting more, and counting down the days until the seasons starts anew in late March.
It’s probably too early to reflect on a season that is not yet over, but I have found that you’re able to keep up pretty well in the greater scheme of things without the multiple games per round, recap shows and masses of online and print media. As it seems to be impossible to be able to completely withdraw from the sporting realm, if you like to read and have functioning ears, you can therefore be aware (though not acutely) of the odd sports story or controversy and can hold your own in sporting conversations … though you may need to ask a couple more questions than you used to.
This is encouraging for someone who will be looking to be healthily reacquainted with the sporting landscape by this time next year. Finding a balance in the tension between obsession and complete withdrawal provides a massive challenge.
There’s degrees to which I’ll miss the company of certain people around the next few big games but the significance of the actual sporting moments has definitely been diluted.
It’s probably handy to not be in the country when these events transpire; you could feel like an overzealous, self-righteous anti-sporting snob if you were to actively avoid the social engagements that will pervade the coming weeks. And I do not want to be that guy that gets the shopping done while the game is on in order to ‘beat the crowds’…
All I have to do is not wake up in Lisbon before 8am.