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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.

‘Tomorrow’ – what lies ahead in 16 days’ time

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Last night, Mrs YWS and I finished the entire 7 seasons of the best drama ever made, The West Wing … for the 5th time! With our due date for our first bubba a mere 8 days away, the latest from The Voice and Master Chef were cast aside, well, recorded to the hard drive, as we churned out the final two episodes.

I’m not sure how many times you can watch a show without it completely losing its impact. With the depth and complexity inherent in so many of the characters thanks to genius screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, you can watch it through the lens of different characters each time you go through all 7 series. But eventually, it’s going to lose its effect. I think we’re about there.

In the final moment of the show, Martin Sheen’s character President Bartlet is asked what he’s thinking about as he flies home to begin a new life. ‘Tomorrow’ was his answer. Roll the credits.

Although I had seen it before (4 times!), it seemed an underwhelming final moment. That was the best they could come up with!? Not even a ‘What’s next?’ – Bartlet’s go-to line?? Why they couldn’t get ousted writer Sorkin back for $1m an episode for the last couple of chapters is beyond me. They had him on screen in the closing moments! Why not get him to pump out the finales? Alas, I digress…

My tomorrow

The closure did get me thinking about my own re-entry to the world of sport in 16 days’ time.

  • What will it look like? Full immersion or a soft re-entry? How much is too much?
  • Will the blog continue?
  • Should I watch a whole lot of events that I’ve missed?
  • What about online – reading articles and game recaps?
  • Are there ground rules that could be helpful to navigate the early stages so that a year’s worth of good work isn’t instantly undone??

So yeah, there are a couple of factors to weigh up on my flight home from DC to New Hampshire. Read the rest of this entry

Tough times down the stretch

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Since I last posted, I have missed one of the epic cricket innings you’re ever likely to see – David Warner’s 180 off 159 balls, including a century in the last session of play on Day 1.

A friend had already texted me, ‘Warner!!!’ so I had to laugh out loud when I turned the tv on to boot up a dvd and there was a Channel 9 visual showing a recent shot of his (I assume) that went for 6 and landed on the roof at the WACA. Just another epic sporting moment I’d missed to add to the list from the last 7+ months.

Believe me, I am looking forward to compiling that list in a blog posting once these 12 months are up!

Was this the one that landed on the roof??

Me and Mrs Year Without Sport this morning –

Me: Hey, if it’s ok, I’ll get you to proof today’s blog at some stage today…

Mrs YWS: Sure. No problems. (Short pause) It’s not going to be about cricket again is it??

Ok everyone, I get your point. Enough about the cricket! It was fun while it lasted, well, for some. But now, it’s back to the journey.

Mixing it up

You see, there’s only so many ways you can talk about how sports affects you or me or society and how that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. It can start to feel like Groundhog Day if you don’t mix it up a bit. Hence the chats about how wrestling is definitively a sport, Michael Clarke is an underrated captain and star and how God may or may not be helping NFL quarterbacks with their passing during the playoffs…

As the 8 month anniversary nears, today is an opportunity to reflect on the struggles ‘down the stretch’, at a time where the journey is no longer new and exciting and yet there’s still too long to go to instigate a countdown… (128 days to go, but you get what I mean!)

Following are the 3 major themes that are swimming around my head as the year without sport ventures on… slowly.

1.  ‘What’s the point?’

That comment above has come to mind more than once these last few weeks, while I’ve been on holidays. With cricket, NFL football, tennis and NBA basketball on offer and having enough spare time to paint a baby’s room and a bathroom, it’s not exactly going to be catastrophic to my health and wellbeing, nor is it taking up my precious down time if I was to plonk on the recliner for a little while and take in some of the day’s action… Read the rest of this entry