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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.

The 3 day test (again!)

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I feel privileged to have witnessed one of the great AFL Grand Finals on Saturday afternoon. The day quickly reminded me why in so many ways, it is my favourite day of the year. A house full of people, great food, drinks flowing, anticipation, excitement, and a top-class football match to boot. Pun intended…

I’d stated in last week’s piece that Grand Final day (or week) was not the time to conjure up accountability about our overt fascination with sport. ‘Enjoy the day’, we were told!

You see, I thought I was jibbed after missing last year’s classic. ‘How could we possibly get near an epic where a hated juggernaut – Collingwood – was topped by an equally impressive Cats unit, far and away the best team of the last decade??’

This year, when Hawthorn went up 29-10, there were thoughts that the event itself would be an anti-climax. We’d done all we could at Household Evans, now it was the players’ turns. Come on Sydney, give us something!

And give us something they did.

They’re a likeable team, the Swannies. It’s easy for Victorians to get alongside them. Based in NSW (duh!), they’re not in the eye of our media as often and most of us haven’t seen them play enough to fully form our dislike for the red and the white.

So when the celebrations began, most non-Hawks supporters joined in, ensconced in the camp of the underdog.

But for how long would these celebrations last before we all moved on?

Read the rest of this entry

1 week to go – what to see, miss and find!

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So close…

358 days down, 7 to go!

It’s a little surreal to be writing about the end of the year without sport journey, particularly in light of the fact that my wife is currently 1 day overdue. As close as the end of the sport hiatus is, it hasn’t been in the forefront of my mind. A pending bubba is…

Still, come next Thursday, in order to not go too crazy trawling through archives, iTunes and YouTube in search of lost sporting moments over the last 11.75 months, I asked a couple of people for a sporting event that I have to see, one that I should miss and a left field event that not many may remember.

There’ll be the obvious ones of the NBA Finals, the AFL Grand Final and WrestleMania, but what else is out there that I have to get to, may not have even heard of, or should definitely miss? Here’s their take on things.

Bomber fan, legend and sports journo

The choices, the choices.

12 months of sport that one person has avoided. Major events like the Grand Final, epic batting performances in cricket and WrestleMania.

But when you step out of your cocoon and look at the world through different eyes, context is the most important thing you should chase.

I’ve been asked to provide three distinct options for Mr YWSWIATBF (Mr Year Without Sport Who Is About To Become A Father). [Blogger’s note – that acronym’s going on my CV!] Here are my responses. Read the rest of this entry

6 month anniversary!

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What was meant to be a celebration turned in something more sinister in the last 24 hours. Going without sport was supposed to protect me from injury.

Let’s just say that a fair bit of time and effort went into typing the second half of this piece!

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It was 6 months ago yesterday that I was coming back from another wasted weekend away. Multiple footy games had been consumed and a big NBA playoff game loomed.

And then everything ground to a halt.

‘Enough of this. I’m going cold turkey.’

I’d tried moderation in limiting my sporting viewing and had achieved some success. But not enough. It was clearly still a crutch on which I leaned too heavily.

And so, drastic measures needed to be taken.

Predictions

If I had known then what I know now, I am not sure I would have gone through with the plan to take 12 months off sports viewing, including newspaper and online articles.

I honestly thought it wouldn’t be that hard! Read the rest of this entry

‘Can Geelong go back to back?’

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The 3 day test strikes again!

It’s a shorter post today but I had to highlight an article which I just saw had come up on The Age. No resting on your laurels, Geelong fans; I hope you enjoyed your 48 hours, because we’re already discussing whether you can do it all again next year.

Early in the life of this blog, I posed a challenge 3 days after the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat (boooooo!) in 6 games to win the NBA title. Surfing through the various web sites, there was basically no articles relating to the Mavs’ actual victory. It was all about the draft, the future for both Miami and Dallas; basically anything but the quality (monumental) of Dallas’ victory.

It clarified for me the voracious media cycle and the precarious nature of success in sports in the modern era. As soon as you have something you have aspired to for so long, people look to the next story – who or what is next. I’ve lived through the greatest season ever – Essendon in 2000  (only lost 1 game), and by March, I wanted it again.

Your turn, Cats

Click here to see the pros and cons of the new task ahead of Geelong. I hope you enjoyed your 2 days, Cats fans … everyone else is moving on.