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Farewell piece – the final post

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Goodbye

Well, I can’t believe that this is it!

It’s been two years since I became overwhelmed with the plethora of sporting options on offer to consumers and began The Year Without Sport.

Keeping up with the relentless saturation of the NBA basketball and AFL football seasons, to go along with soccer – Australian A-League, English Premier League and the Champions League, as well as WWE, UFC, Major League Baseball, the NFL, tennis and cricket, was just too much.

Desperately wanting something more from life than just creating enough time to watch ‘x’ amount of coverage each night, I went cold turkey.

Or, to be more poignant –

“Stuff this!”

It’s a move I’ll never regret and is one I’m particularly proud of.

Soon after, the blog began…  –

Exploding bomb

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Stepping away

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.

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Looking back

Ahh, the long paragraphs, the bolded words to draw your attention to particular phrases. What a rookie! Still, I didn’t know if anyone would read it, or if it would make an impact, still don’t really… (Having said that, it’s still my favourite piece of any that I wrote, with maybe my letter to my son a close second…)

But what I did know is that I wanted to be intentional about engaging with this process, about not just finding other crutches to waste my time on – tv, movies, music et al, but engaging in what was truly important – my wife, my faith, my family and friends and my community.

And now, my son.

Sigh...

Sigh…

Sacrifices

There were things to give up along the way – an amazing NBA Finals series with the evil Miami Heat getting knocked off by the Dallas Mavericks, an epic Cats – Pies AFL Grand Final in 2011, seeing Manchester United in person at Old Trafford, I repeat, in person… (Double italics, still a rookie…!), cricket innings of magnificence from Clarke and Warner, Sam Stosur dominating Serena in the US Open Final on S11, the Bombers going ballistic to start last season before the drugs wore off, Cadel winning le Tour, the New England Patriots in the SuperBowl, Man U clinching the title and WrestleFreakingMania (It’s a sport, don’t make me link back to the two blogs that covered this. Whoops, too late…)

A sport!

A sport!

Were the sacrifices worth it? Of course. Was it a perfect journey? Of course not. There were things I could have done better – been more bullish about finding alternative focal activities to immerse myself in, staying offline and actively avoiding sports results are two that instantly spring to mind.

But it’s given me a deep richness of living and an incredible perspective on my priorities and has created an ongoing dialogue with many people I know.

Two years, almost 150 blog posts, 23,000 blog visits and 141,000+ words later, sport no longer has the hold it once had on me. Was I disappointed when the Lakers got bounced from the playoffs or when Kobe snapped his Achilles?

Not the end of the world ... just the season.

Not the end of the world … just the season.

Yeah, a biiit.

But that’s about it.

You move on

Life moved on for me pretty quickly, and not a single ounce of my energy or being was tied to the result of the NBA season, or the current footy season.

When I started the YWS, I found it amazing just how quickly I didn’t miss it.

First came relief, then came positive alternatives, admittedly there was some boredom (pre Joshie!) and the aforementioned tough moments (in person!)

but

You will never know the hold that your vices have on you until you give them up.

Ever.

You can say all the right things – I’ve got in under control, there’s other people more obsessed than me, we’re allowed just one creature comfort, why should I,

but

Until you actually experience the alternate reality, your sliding doors moment, it can all be a mere mirage from a judgmental outlier who think they know better than you how your life should operate.

Stop making excuses. Give yourselves a little room to breathe without –

  • Punting
  • Your iPhone
  • Buying clothes
  • The tv on
  • Drinking

or

  • The iPad

And see what comes your way.

Trust me, you’ll never look back.

Inspiration

I’m stirred and inspired when I see problem gamblers endeavour to go 100 days without. I’m firmly on their side and wish to God that the abuse of ads for gambling odds during games would cease. These people who have gone public on the fightforyou site have such courage.

Fight for you

Let them watch a game they love in peace.

I guess if there were any final words I wanted to get across, they would be to be flexible people. Be open to hearing about life could be different. Don’t become so rigid in all your ways that nothing becomes untouchable – from sports viewing, to how you spend your money, how you parent, how long you’re online, your attitude to the poor; be an open book.

I’m so blessed in that I get to re-engage with a medium I love (sport!) – for all the positives that it can bring – bringing people together. There’s nothing better.

God bless you.

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Thank you to all those in the last two years who have taken the time to read these pages, offer a supportive word, clicked ‘Like’ on Facebook, written a comment, or better still, questioned some of your own habits; allowed yourself to be malleable.

A special special thank you to Brendan Hughes, who has been a huge supporter of this and of me throughout.

To Jo Jo, you have been a rock of support and your belief in me means so much. I appreciated(d) all your hours of proof reading, well, until Joshy came along. 😉

Ben, your behind the scenes insights, challenges and encouragement kept me on my toes. You’re a star, but I now challenges You to go 12 months without Eurovision. No? Didn’t think so… =>

And for my regular comment people of Matt, Diddle, Craig and Willo and whoever else might have had their say, thanks, guys. It’s been awesome to have your input along the way.

And to my great mate Craig, you’re an absolute gun for allowing me the ‘odd’ week off and writing guest pieces for the blog. Really appreciate your willingness to help out. Let’s hope our boys can turn things around in the next few weeks! 🙂

And to my son, Josh. My love, it was a gift from God that the YWS came along before you did. The choice to disengage myself from one of my vices enabled me to engage with coffee, friendship, my family, and, to you.

I would do it all again if sport got in the way. Though from the faces you often make at me, I think it’s the laptop and the iPhone that will be getting turfed first. And you probably have a point.

I hope and pray your innocence and love of the simple things continue to teach me and all of us about life and what is truly important – that the joys of life are in everyone you meet, that a smile can change someone’s day, that loud shouts of joy should be a daily ritual and that a cuddle from someone you love is the most precious gift of all. I love you.

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2012 – what a year in sport!

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2012

Ok, so I’m officially on holidays.

Well, does that mean I can’t write a final blog?! Well yes, that’s exactly what it means. 🙂 Plus, when you have a soon-to-be-home-in-Melbourne sports journalist legend in Craig O’Donoghue looking for excuses to get out of packing boxes and I need a guest columnist for the final slot for the year, it’s a win-win, right?! I say yes…

Here’s a look back at how the sporting universe panned out this year- from the good to the bad, the tragic to the ugly…

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The best ever. An all time classic. What a champion. In an era where news lasts minutes instead of hours and attention spans are seriously tested, it is easy to turn an above average sporting event into something that it’s not.

But when we look back on 2012, it’s going to be hard for anyone to deny that we’ve been spoilt by some astonishing feats.

The year began at the SCG when Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke belted a triple century against India. It began a year where he’d score another three double tons and make us question what it would take to get him out.

Next came the longest tennis grand slam final in Open history when Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal slugged it out for five hours and 53 minutes before Djokovic prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5.

A 6 hour final - no wonder Djokovic is spent...

A 6 hour final – no wonder Djokovic is spent…

Read the rest of this entry

Just. Let. Go.

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Cricket - Warne and Clarke

If you had told me two to three months ago that I was going to write three consecutive pieces on cricket, and four of the last five, I would have first asked you who the hell Australia were playing that summer, and then told you that you were a little bit Metta World Peace … err … Ron Artest … um, crazy.

Yet, on my busy Friday, as I grabbed my newspaper from the staffroom only for the purposes of throwing it into the recycling bin (yes, I’m that busy), there on the back page was an image of a defiant Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke, with the headline, ‘I want Warne’.

Now, before those ‘in the know’ hit me with facts regarding who actually writes the headlines and whether or not Clarke even alluded to that, let alone said it, I’m just going to assume he was talking about something like his favourite colour and our bastion of bad journalism simply sensationalised it. It’s the Herald Sun, peoples.

The name doesn't mean he still won't throw elbows...

The name doesn’t mean he still won’t throw elbows…

But make no mistake, that there is a strong sentiment in sporting circles that Warne could help us win the Ashes and return to the top of the cricket rankings if he was reinserted into the team, at the expense of … well, at the expense of no one, really. Sorry, Nathan Lyon, you’re in a no-win situation so long as the greatest ever is up and about. Read the rest of this entry

Finishing well – what Ricky Ponting can teach Australia!

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Cricket - Ponting retirement press conference

I was so rapt to hear about Ricky Ponting’s retirement.

I was truly disappointed for him that he didn’t have the form to warrant two more Ashes’ series. But I was happy for him that he is able to finish well.

Even if he fails both times in this final test against South Africa (and it looks like that may indeed be the case*) and we fail to take the mantle of the number one test team in the world (ditto**), there will be little gloss taken off the careers of one of the greatest batsman this country has ever seen. (*Blogger’s note – didn’t like being right on that one…) (**ditto!)

Finish well

It’s great to be able to finish well. Whether it be the end of a school year, a job, even a relationship … ok, maybe not a relationship! But it’s important that the positive characteristics of a long-term project are not marred by an ugly finish.

If Ponting had gone to England and we get smacked, as is very very likely, and then we come back here to face the Poms on our own soil and ditto the smacketh, there will be hell to pay. Need further proof? Less than a week ago, we were two lousy balls away from becoming the best team in the world. On Sunday, South Africa asserted themselves and boom, in Monday’s paper, there’s an article saying what’s wrong with the national squad.

What’s wrong with the squad!? We’re facing the best test nation in the world, who won’t just roll over and die like so many other weak opponents over the last two decades! Read the rest of this entry

The making of a legend

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More runs, more wins, more double centuries… Same tattoos…

It’s ironic that on the exact same day that I had always planned to draft this piece about our Australian cricket captain and the responsibilities of leadership that have seemingly catapulted him into the highest echelon of batsman, this article came out.

If you can’t be bothered clicking on it, it’s an apology from the editors of The Age. Their compulsion for such an act? For ever calling into question Clarke’s ‘previous lifestyle’ and the choices he made in regards to girlfriends, clothes and advertisements.

As you may know, I have been ‘on’ the Clarke haters for some time now. I could never understand the vitriol directed his way. In a poll two years ago, over 70% of 5,000 people indicated that they wanted someone else as captain.

Why??!

Was it the tatts? Surely not. Buddy Franklin has those and he’s pretty much noted as the most explosive, talented player the game has seen for some time.

Ok, admittedly this ad did him no favours!

Was it the pretty boy looks and the multiple endorsements? Name a well-known cricketer not spruiking some product or another. And enough with the Swisse vitamins already – they don’t do you any good!

Ummm, well was it because he had a supermodel girlfriend and once bought her a car?? The fact that he likes expensive watches? Because he’s lithe and not built like David Boon?!

Or was it that he just doesn’t fit our pigeon-holed ideals as to what a cricket captain should be? Read the rest of this entry

It’s 2012! How cricket needs to get itself out of ancient history

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(Disclaimer! – I drafted this piece before the Cowan, Hussey and Clarke explosions. I still think South Africa was hardly done by early on but yes, now … not so much!

And again, for any remaining Michael Clarke haters out there – three double centuries in a calendar year … yeah, I think he was the right man for the job – tattoo, sports cars, ex-girlfriend-supermodel notwithstanding…)

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If there’s one sport that seemingly evokes little passion nowadays, it seems to be our former favourite pastime of the summer.

I had a couple of interesting interactions with friends over the weekend about cricket, which surprised me because most fans only get into the cricket when it’s the Ashes. But aside from that one major rivalry – and it is a great one! – there appears to be an ever-dwindling passionate fan-base.

Our interest may be piqued when we square off against India, but can anyone tell me who we played in last year’s One Day Series? Where did we finish in the 20/20 World Cup? Who knocked us out? Did we even win the last 50 over World Cup?

Bored at the cricket And it’s raining. Who woulda thunk it!?

Cricket seems to be the sport to have on … when there’s nothing else on. Read the rest of this entry

Testing times – the NBA returns!

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We are one day away from the end of the worst sporting month of the year, bar none! October brings us ‘anticipation’ about (a) little men who race horses, the trainers who prepare them or the actual freaking horses, (b) how much money you’re going to lose while punting – sidenote; we’re Aussies, it’ll be a lot! – or (c) how drunk you’re going to get at The Cup.

No thanks.

For others though, October is the countdown for the NBA basketball season. You know, those immensely tall, mostly black athletic freakazoids who amaze with their skills and finesse?!

Longest sidenote ever

Another sidenote that’s not really a sidenote – I feel for those who are passionate about only one team or sport. For a lot of Aussies, this is the AFL. And look, I love footy as much as anyone, well, really, more than most. And when it’s all said and done, give me a Bombers premiership over a Lakers or a Man U title.

But what the hell do you do between October and April?! Read the rest of this entry