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The $$ cost of sport

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(Blogger’s note – This piece ended up comprising a bit of a nostalgic trip down sporting memory lane.

What are the fond memories that you have of going to different sporting events as a youngster? How have they positively shaped your relationships and family dynamics? I’m keen to hear!)

There was many a Saturday afternoon when I was young when my mum would pack me up and head to the footy at Waverley Park to catch either the Bombers or the Saints in the then VFL. Sometimes Dad would join, but it would often just be me and her braving the ridiculously cold weather and ungodly winds to enjoy a Saturday afternoon together. (True story – mum was once so cold that she went to the carpark and listened to the game on the car radio!)

Waverley Park. Seriously cold…

One of the plusses of the weather was that it justified hot food. As a kid, we didn’t really get a lot of treats; it was just the way things were.

Yet all this ‘common sense’ seemed to fly out the window at Waverley Park. And like a CIA spy, I sensed the change in philosophy and pounced like a desperate reality tv contestant on a dating show.

It would be normal for me as a 10 year old to have returned home having consumed 2 pies, a hot dog and hot chips. I wish I was exaggerating this intake. As does my adult stomach and metabolism.

But they were great days and they created awesome memories. Mum cheered the Bombers to support me and I cheered the Saints to back her up.

This was pointless in the 80s as they were easybeats, but there were times in the 90s where St Kilda was must see tv. I saw more of Tony Lockett, the highest goal kicker in the history of football, than most other non-Saints supporters. Believe me, he was worth the hype!

Tony Lockett. ‘Plugger’. Superduperstar. Beast.

The Dons

And it at Waverley Park that I developed my passion for the Bombers, its players and personalities, from the giant Paul Salmon, the enigmatic Timmy Watson to the eccentric ‘Sheeds’.

And regardless of the fact that St Kilda never beat Essendon at Waverley Park in all our trips there over the years, we would unfailingly go to every Saints-Bombers game as a family.

I’m sure this wasn’t the point, or maybe it was, but the dividends that it paid off to my relationship with my mum are significant. It helped create a closeness that is there to this day.

And it cost her about $1.50.

Pockets out

I was saddened, though not shocked, to read recently about the rising costs of sporting events. At a recent cricket test match, a midlevel seat cost $75 for an adult, $125 for a family, and the cheapest seat cost you $36 in the upper decks. I’ve sat in the back row at the G; you’re getting 10 times the value for money by watching your giant plasma at home.

They seem to be keeping the seats cheap enough for the kids in a family package, but that doesn’t exactly help the ‘one adult, one child’ admission, a particularly common occurrence in this current day environment of broken families.

Child prices remaining relatively low doesn’t solve the obvious problem of at least one other adult being with them.

Changing times

In May I become a father and, boy or girl, I can’t wait to get to the footy or the cricket, the basketball or the tennis, to see what grabs them. If nothing does, and it’s dancing or baseball or, God forbid netball, then so be it.

Please, no…

But it’s also the opportunity to create memories that I don’t want to miss. Having young children isn’t exactly the peak earning season of a family’s lifecycle, when half of the couple are generally not working full time. Discretionary income to spend to the tune of $100 for a day at the cricket won’t be high on the agenda.

But as we all know, watching sport from your lounge room is nowhere near the same as actually being there, hearing the hum and roar of the crowd, the smells of the stadium, the grass and the food, the excitement of the radio preview in the car on the way in or the train trip on the way out, the unparalleled community experience of cheering your head off for or against each other.

These are compelling moments for a young person to experience. You cannot overestimate the impact that they might have, and the inspiration or relationships that could blossom as a result of this intentional, fun, bonding family time.

It could have been me…

The future

Will I pay $40+ for a ticket to a major sporting event in the future? Probably. The point is is that it won’t happen as often. This is a shame, as ‘quality time’ is a fabrication. Quantity time is crucial to developing relationships and really getting to know someone.

I don’t miss the exorbitant entry or food prices in this 12 month sabbatical, but if it means building the right types of relationships in the future, I guess it’s a price I’ll just have to pay. Even if I do have to sit in the car on the really cold days…


About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

4 responses »

  1. As professionalism rises, both from the playing perspective and from the facilities on hand so does the price. The slick level of professionalism and profit making is at such a level now that anything less would be seen as a diaster, the sport (whichever one it may be) in trouble.

    However we enjoy it all no less or more than we did when prices and professionalism were far less inflated.

    • Good points. I do wonder though if we enjoy it less now than we used to – especially the cricket, where certain rules have been changed for our (appropriate) protection. Might be offset in terms of the footy though by better stadiums, access to the players and coaches etc…

  2. Hi Pete,

    I have been following your musings from afar (or at least Canberra) this year, and understand the reasons for your journey. I am a father of 6 and a Phys Ed teacher, so the constant “professional development” opportunities can be both a blessing and a curse.

    Many of the topics that you have covered this year are areas that I cover in my Sports Studies class, so your food for thought has been very parallel to my classroom conversations. I have found the faith based topics well covered as well.

    To the current topic:

    Holidaying in sunny Perth over Dec/Jan, I had the excellent privilege of taking my 2 oldest daughters to a bit of cricket – 2 Big Bashes and the first day of the third test. (You may have heard that Warner was pretty good…) While it was a scorcher at the WACA, I couldn’t have asked for a better first day of test cricket viewing for the girls. One India got rolled, the kids were keen to bolt early and head for the pool, but Dad said “only if Warner gets out”. Good decision Dad!

    My own Dad was not a sport lover (and did not tolerate alcohol), but still took the sons to view cricket from the Hill at the SCG in the late 80s for Australia v NZ in a ODI. Once the streaker lurched on to the field, the family went home early – but it was the start of a live sport love affair for the boys. Dad also coached our various sporting teams, more to be involved than for the love of sport. As youngsters, we were also only allowed to watch 1 hour of sport on a Saturday arvo, and usually whatever we watched we then went and played until dinner. It was usually Wide World of Sport (with the TV turned off for the horse racing – a waste of viewing time), cricket or VFL. Great memories.

    Our girls have just started playing basketball. We held off on team sports until they (persistently) asked to play, and then waited one more season. They love playing, and as I play as well, we have some blossoming rivalry on the front driveway on many summer evenings. They enjoy the family footy tipping comp (with weekly lolly prizes), and ask to hear Kerry O’Keefe on ABC Grandstand cricket the moment we hop in the car.

    The cycle goes on…

    • Hi Vandy,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Loved reading it, and others have commented to me about it as well.

      Firstly (and foremostly!), well done on the ‘we’re staying until Warner gets out’. That’s one decision you’ll never regret! I hear you about the wasted viewing time of the horse racing during the Wide World of Sports. The other aspect of that show that used to infuriate me as a young ‘un was, ‘This wrestling match up next,’ which normally means I had a 40+ minute wait…

      Loved the story of your dad at the SCG on The Hill – would have been quite the environment, I expect…

      Rapt that hear that as a father of 6, sport seems to be such a healthy and balanced part of your family life. Keep with it… My family’s about to get a little bigger, so I’ll try to do the same thing, just without the 6 kiddins…!

      Thanks again,


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