Excerpt from the opening blog piece in the year without sport –
‘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…’
They say there’s something special about your ‘first’… Your first love, car, job, fight, child! There’s undoubtedly something special in my heart for that first blog piece, as I started a private journal 12 months ago to the day. If I could keep only one of the 97 posts so far, I wouldn’t hesitate. Give me that one.
Within that piece I can see the desire to do things differently, to release myself from the relentless pressure of wanting to be up-to-date with every aspect of every sport that I love/d. The wasted time, the endless analysis, the sense that there’s something more…
Early on, no one knew I was doing it, not even my wife. Hence the wingdings font… I didn’t want to bignote myself on something so significant unless I was going to see it all the way through. Even in the ‘About Pete’ section, I kept the gag in about ‘trying’ to go a whole 12 months, as I didn’t want to seem like a (bigger) tool if this thing fell through.
Well, tool or not, 365 days later, the journey now comes to a close!
It has been an awesome ride and one that I will never regret. I have learned so much, though I won’t go into it too much here – Tuesday’s post rolled the sleeves up and got stuck in on that platform.
Needless to say, however, we all have our vices. Mine was sport. Freeing myself from its allure, its irresistible pull was imperative to me growing more as a man.
My constant encouragement throughout the 12 months to anyone that read or chatted to me about this journey was to humbly seek to identify what cultural distraction has got its hands on you. Ask real questions of the people around you. Do I spend too much time on this? Am I always talking about it? What could this be keeping me from? Honestly, if you can’t pinpoint one aspect, then you’re not being honest. I mean, who doesn’t need a personal audit?!
Your response to this doesn’t have to be a one year sabbatical from your passion or love. But being bullish about moderating your behaviours sometimes takes a substantial step. A significant, counter-cultural, bold move.
It’s not easy. But if I was to be the best husband, friend and community member I could be, my values needed to more accurately be reflected in my behaviours. And so, sport had to lose its grip in my life.
And it did!
How hard was it?!
Look, I’m not going to tell you that to suddenly drop your number one pastime for a full 12 months is easy, but I can’t say that it was too hard either. You’d be amazed at how quickly you adapt to new ways of doing life. So long as you don’t fill your newfound time with white noise but instead involve yourself in constructive substitutes, you won’t miss time spent on the couch, or wherever it is that your vice takes you…
Fortunately, most of the highs and lows have been captured within this blog.
For people who are new to these pages, if I had to pick the top 5 or 6 posts that sum up what this journey has been about, I would have to go with the following. They’re not all uber-serious. Some are as light-hearted as it got these last 365 days. And, they were hard to narrow down! (But maybe I’m biased…!)
If you haven’t yet read them, if you’re new or old to this blog, I encourage you to take a look at some stage, if not now…
The definitive low point – After missing the AFL Grand Final, NBA Finals, English Premier League soccer matches in person, epic Australian Open tennis finals and cricket, plus a host of other events, having to miss the Super Bowl when your team comes from nowhere to match up against their arch enemy was as ironic as it got and sent me to my lowest point. In another irony, after the pro wrestling piece, it became the most popular post of the year. It also heralded a new determination to drop more off the internet grid and avoid all information altogether. These decisions in January got me through the rest of the year.
‘Water, sports drinks and a little emotion’ – I was always going to attend a good friend’s final footy match, sports ban or not. The post that followed my Saturday at Warrandyte as we as a community soaked in the emotion of a farewell was one of my favs.
The media ban series – We’ve all had results we’ve tried to avoid be ruined in all kinds of innocuous circumstances. Compiling them in all 3 pieces here made for entertaining reading. Enjoy pieces 1, 2 and 3…!
The 2 wrestling posts – It was great to provide a voice for the much-maligned world of pro wrestling. These phenomenal athletes deserve better for their talents and courage than the ridicule that comes their way. While ‘the against’ pro wrestling was hard to write, the ‘for’ piece is still the most widely read column in the blog. (Blogger’s note – even today.)
The top 5 things about ‘missing’ the Melbourne Cup – I can’t stand horse racing; I’m sorry, I just can’t. I don’t mind the horses, but the hysteria over the trainers and the little jockeys is beyond comprehension. I enjoyed writing this piece!
The letter to the 15 year old me – I sat staring at a blank screen for a couple of minutes for one of the few times in the year. The inspiration that followed came from nowhere and I knew 10 minutes in that I had a special piece on my hands. Being more vulnerable in terms of my lowering confidence and self-esteem wasn’t the norm, but hey, it seemed to work out ok.
To quote the line that should have ended the final scene of the greatest show ever, The West Wing, ‘What’s next?’ Well, this afternoon, I probably won’t jump online for an hour or two and start the re-entry process like a teenager doing a bomb off the 10 metre platform.
I’ve already logged onto nba.com and it was jarring the amount of information that threw itself at me. I didn’t last 60 seconds. (That’s what … never mind.)
Nothing will probably change tonight, and even tomorrow. But slowly, there’ll be some integration. Of course, I can’t wait to hang with the boys Saturday night, watch a replay of the AFL Grand Final and see what my current football team actually looks like. They’re winning and they’re relevant! That down time with the fellas has been the hardest part to miss these last 52 weekends.
A subtle difference
When this journey began, there were no plans for me to be a father by the time the journey ended.
But things change.
Our little girl or guy is now 8 days overdue.
If someone said to me today that I had to go another 12 months for the sake of this little angel, I wouldn’t hesitate in doing it again. I simply cannot communicate in words how glad I am that I made this pro-active change to give myself the opportunity to be a more present father.
If nothing else little one, then this was for you.
And so the year without sport comes to an end. The blog will continue every Tuesday and I’ll do my best not to turn it into yet another sports analysis forum. =>
A little self-indulgence
Forgive me for this next part, but there’s been a fair chunk of robust up-front and behind the scenes goings on throughout the last 12 months. It’d be remiss of me not to acknowledge some of them.
Firstly, to Brendan, aka ‘Ooze’, aka ‘bcst’ – You are my biggest and most vocal supporter and your belief in me and in this journey has been phenomenal. Thank you for reading everything I wrote, for commenting every single time and for being so positive and honest. Good too, that in our true fashion, we had to put the gloves on a couple of times behind the scenes! You are a great man and a true and trusted friend.
To Jo; Mrs YWS, my wife, mother-to-be and the greatest proof reader on God’s green earth – Your willingness to embrace the unexpected and see the bigger picture is unparalleled. You are the best person I have ever met and you make me a better person every day. Thank you for diligently going over every post and enabling me to spread this message.
Good God, that’s … that’s Craig O’s music! Buddy, you live the good life. Your glass isn’t just half full, it’s ¾ full and rising! I love your enthusiasm and zest for life and your willingness to engage in these pages and not take it personally, even though you’re the best damn sports journo on the west coast of Australia.
Catters, my fellow pilgrim in all things. I love doing the journey with you. There’s so much respect and admiration for the way you go about your life with integrity, well, except for your love of women’s tennis. I appreciate so much that within your crazy stupid lifestyle, you have stopped to read, reflect and comment on everything I’ve put out there.
To MWBA … so much to say. For 12 months we’ve butted heads and never really seen eye to eye. It’s been my greatest frustration and disappointment. Regardless, as this first weekend back loomed, you were the first person I’d want to share the comeback with. Some things, friendship supersedes. Obviously, this is one of them.
To anyone who has read these pages and has been prepared to think about the ways in which you devote your energies and reconsider how your vices might be controlling you, thank you. We’re called to something big in life. Our consumerist culture doesn’t want you to poke your head up. It’ll try to knock you back down. But you’ll be surprised at the support and affirmation you receive.
And to our little one, we can’t wait to meet you. I hope this year has helped me be a father that is present, that you can be proud of, that you’ll want to spend time with and can look you in the eye when things get tough and be honest and loving. Gimme just one of those and this will all be worth it.