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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.

I have a son!

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World, meet Josh…

Dear Josh,

Well, you weren’t too pleased when you arrived, but dude, after 42 weeks, what did you expect?! You weren’t gonna do it yourself, so we had to call your bluff. And to be blunt, at 4.61kg, aka 10 pound 2, mum is particularly pleased with that decision.

You are so new to this world, yet already you have made such an impact. They gave you to me to hold moments after you were born at 10.33pm, May 30. By the way, in that 40 second or so delay, you moved from 10.32 – Magic Johnson’s number, to 10.33 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Both are from the Lakers, but only one agreed to give me his autograph. You guess which one – the fun loving, uber-skilled, best point guard of all time, or the grumpy bald man who played with glasses until he was 42?? Yep, I thought you’d get it…

Anyway, when they gave you to me, it was just so natural. You see, I’m normally not great with babies. Am I holding them right? Am I supporting the head properly? What will their parents think? It’s so delicate – will I break it?! But with you, it felt right straight away. You felt safe in my arms. You are safe in my arms. Read the rest of this entry

It’s over! The end of the year without sport

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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…

No, not That type of first…

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! Read the rest of this entry

2 days to go – is sport our default religion?

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Whilst watching the second half of the City game, the biggest thing that hit me is how much sport is a default religion for many. The pure emotion on everyone’s face in stadiums and pubs across England as all final matches were played simultaneously. That’s a LOT of people who have put their hope for happiness in something they have no control over. I love the passion, also evident in this blog, but people smashing things in the stands and melting down with tantrums in the closing minutes, I just think it’s kind of sad.’

 Ok, so I admit it’s kind of soft to start my second last blog for the year with a chunk of someone else’s words, but it’s this comment on last week’s blog on the epic finish to the English Premier League season that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Well, except for when I’ve been thinking non-stop about our own baby that is now 5 freaking days overdue, or for friends who are going through hell right now. Alright, so the sport stuff has only popped into my head occasionally…

But with the end of the year without sport a mere 2 days away, I can’t help but try to glean some semblance of perspective to the point of these last 363 days. Man, it’s incredible to even write that number.

Default

‘Default’ is a word that has come to mind more than once these past few months, and not just because I’ve emerged victorious from two separate tennis matches on that basis due to injuries to opponents! This includes the provider of our opening comment for this piece. Hey, I’ll take a victory any way I can get it. Just call me Chelsea… (Thank you, thank you very much.)

The ‘default’ theme has come up consistently as it’s the one element I’ve been able to identify with. Sport will no longer be my default posture when Thursday and the end of the 12 month journey arrives. (‘Thursday’ … seriously.)

But is it our default religion?

It’s definitely one of them. Read the rest of this entry

An angry blog

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2 goals in 3 minutes to lose the title – this is just plain cruel.

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There’s some ‘wisdom’ often communicated to newlyweds – ‘Never go to bed angry’.

It’s rubbish.

It really is. Late at night, things often seem worse than they really are. You’re tired, you may have had a long day and being unable to locate the toothpaste your other half has misplaced seems a much bigger deal than it actually is.

Go to bed, sleep on it, chat about it the next morning if you need to. And often, you don’t. The ‘issue’ from the night before is often resolved with one or the other saying, ‘Hey, sorry about this or that,’ and the other replying, ‘Hey, don’t fret it’ and life moves on.

What about not blogging when you’re angry?

Because this is where I find myself right now.

Going to bed angry? A problem for some. Blogging angry?! A different animal altogether…

Read the rest of this entry

‘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

An exciting finish to a soccer season – who woulda thunk it!?

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Manchester United and Manchester City played each other Monday night, with the winner almost certainly laying claim to the title.

Have I not said before that I’d prefer to know nothing rather than realising what I’m missing out on?!

The recent posts on ‘Soccer – boring as hell or M.U.P.I.T.S?! (Most Underrated Pastime in the Southern hemisphere) – parts 1 and 2 drew a wide range of interest and good natured banter on these pages.

One of the criticisms of the world game that came out is that in leagues in England and Spain etc, there are no exciting finals to build towards and anticipate.

No finals? No worries.

Well, Monday night’s game may not have been labelled an official final, but, as so often happens at the tail end of the Premier League season, it can all come down to a match or two that decides it all. Monday night may prove to be just that.

Of course there’s not the pressure, intensity and expectation that comes with a playoff or finals series, and certainly not the fishbowl atmosphere present in a single championship game or Grand Final.

We don’t need it!

The other thing soccer fans will tell you is that they don’t need to have a finals series. They already have one. Most leagues have a concurrent knockout tournament (think, FA Cup) running during their season. Aussies and Americans might intrinsically believe that this dilutes the importance of the regular season championship if ‘there’s something else you can win,’ but this is a cultural difference. Soccer leagues have always had the cup. Their fans’ couldn’t care less that you think there should be only one title up for grabs. It’s never been the way in soccer… sorry, ‘football’. Read the rest of this entry