(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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…