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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.

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

The top 5 features of the Melbourne Cup!

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It’s funny when writing this blog, that you never quite know which pieces are going to garner the most reaction. Sometimes I’ll put out a link that I’m really into and I don’t hear much back on, others get passionate responses and feedback that spring seemingly from nowhere.

Last year’s Cup piece is one such example of the latter.

Some were with me on my indifference to the … hang on, I can’t call it a sport … um, indifference to the ‘event’, but others felt sincerely blighted that I’d taken a potshot, well, many potshots, really, at something they enjoy deeply.

And hey, if you’re someone who doesn’t get absolutely comatose on Cup Day, who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to condescendingly dismiss a marked day of your calendar?

So, with the memory of this year’s AFL Grand Final firmly in mind – one of the best days of my year by far, with my house filled with people, kids, food, drinks, energy and excitement – I will now present the ‘Anti-2011 Cup Day’ piece!

(For those who think I’ve sold out, I’ve pasted last year’s piece below.)

The top 5 features of the Melbourne Cup

5.  Jockeys are in the limelight!

For too many months of the year, these men walk our streets, unnoticed by most over 1.5m tall, dismissed as tiny mini-me’s with voices made for cartoon animation. Now, they hold centre stage.

And do they grab it with both hands!? Read the rest of this entry

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

A letter to the 15 year old me

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Dear 15 year old Pete,

You won’t be surprised to know that sport, which has been a big part of your life, will continue to be so for the next 20 years.

You know those days when you used to spend hours upon hours playing cricket in the street and shooting hoops with our next door neighbours? Of course you do. Well, no surprise, but they will always provide your fondest memories of you actually playing a sport. No matter what unbelievable sporting moments arise in your future, and there’ll be a few, those epic shooting games and endless summer hours of cricket at Telopea Avenue will not be beaten. Ever.

And by the way, you won’t ever top the 125 and 144 back-to-back street centuries you made as a 12 year old, though an 83 you’ll make for the Nunawading Churches of Christ Cricket Club 3’s as an adult will be a pretty handy knock.

In a year or so, you are going to damage a finger in your left hand. Badly. It will need surgery. When the operation is completed and the pins are inserted and the surgeon tells you to go home but to take a couple of Panadol if you experience any pain, refuse to leave. Stay the night. And punch the surgeon in the face. Hard. Read the rest of this entry