I often get asked, in jest, how it is that I know specific pieces of info about sporting results, events or personalities, if I’m taking 12 months off sport.
How can I not know?!
Living in Melbourne, Australia, one of the sporting capitals of the world, means that if you have eyes or ears and are ever around people or a computer, you’re going to be ‘in the know’ to some degree about the sporting landscape.
It’s impossible to escape.
But I think I know why.
Never completely off the grid
It can come as a surprise to some that I know how Australia went in the cricket recently and that Ponting is hanging by a thread, my opinion over Clarke is being validated and that somehow, there is talk of Warner as a future captain?!
(The Warner story + Leon Davis making the AFL All Australian team have been the two most surprising news stories for me in these 7 months. In a related story, Davis looks like being teamless next year, so the world is making an effort to right itself, which I appreciate.)
I know that Warnie is back playing and that Liz Hurley is with him. Wow. So sad I missed that. I’m made aware of who wins tennis and golf tournaments, that Hawthorn has high hopes for next season (who doesn’t?!), that Man City is going gang busters in the EPL and that we are having an NBA basketball season after a lockout over a pay dispute, saving me from writing the most scathing piece ever.
I get online every day to take in the news. It’s a tradition I started while living in Shanghai 6 years ago. (Yes friends, it was that long ago.) Take a look at this screen dump of The Age from a few days ago and you can get a bit of a picture as to why I can’t completely escape from the world of sport…
This is actually a pretty light day for sports news. Normally in the middle column there’d be at least one sports-related story.
And another –
So, I know the cricket scores, talk over Jeff Kennett and Kieran Jack, and a story on Ponting didn’t fit in. There’s also debate over the Hurley-Warne saga (I’m giving them 2 years, tops), the Melbourne Victory-Heart rivalry / Christmas hat story which we covered recently and Ian Poulter made a 67 to win the Australian Masters.
See that daily and you can pretty well hold your own in most sports conversations that arise. I’ve chosen not to ignore or walk away from these types of topics. That would be taking things a bit far!
It just goes to show what a fascination this city and this country has with sport.
And to be honest, that was going to be the ‘meat and potatoes’ of today’s piece.
Until I took at the other stories on offer that day.
Scroll back up if you like and take a look. Here is what else is on offer in the headlines –
- An Australian stabbed in Bali
- Porn threats at the air traffic centre
- Downsizing at Myer
- The sinking of a boat carrying 200 asylum seekers
- A horrible assault where someone was burned
- An incredibly irresponsible father drink driving
And, if that all wasn’t bad enough –
- Snake bites and spider infiltrations (my wife’s going to hate reading that last one…)
It’s no wonder that so many choose to immerse ourselves in a world light on for meaningful drama or meaning when the real world throws this at us.
I mean, how much shocking and scary news can we take? I actually had to change radio stations last week during a 5pm news broadcast as they shared horrible specifics of an assault on a baby. 5pm. I don’t have to tell you what I’d rather talk about with my mates that night if I was given the choice of that assault or whether Ponting should stay or go.
The media absolutely has a case to answer for in this. What they choose to highlight or ignore and how they can sensationalise stories that need a bit of ‘oomph’ is disgusting. I was so glad that Today Tonight got ab-so-lutely canned in an article recently. (Or click on this link and pick one of the ‘Today Tonight is getting sued’ articles.) Just trash. Will anyone be able to line up the Herald Sun in a similar manner? Doubt it. We’ll move on – media coverage is a topic that can have its own blog series.
We as consumers also have our own case to answer. It’s the ‘chicken or the egg’ rationale. We buy it because the media sells it. The media sells it because we buy it. The biggest selling edition of the Herald Sun ever was the day that the Wayne Carey saga broke.
In the absence of a greater spread
It would be wonderful if a greater spread of world news, stories of substance and good news stories could be at the forefront of our news intake. In the absence of that, I think it’s completely understandable as to why people either switch off or shift their focus elsewhere.
Sport is a safe haven of common ground for so many of us. For men in particular, it is a connecting glue. It provides high anticipation, huge events, epic contests and unforgettable performances. We can debate and argue without fear of political incorrectness or offending someone. And we can come together as allies or adversaries, depending on the contest.
That’s why I don’t walk away when the topic arises.