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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.

It’s Grand Final time!

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Before I begin, kudos to Jobe Watson on winning the Brownlow Medal. What he has had to go through to mould himself into one of the best players in the game deserves significant accolades.

The pressure of being the son of Essendon legend Timmy Watson, who is revered by all of us at Bomberland, is nothing to scoff at. He started too soon, was out of his depth and lacked the prerequisite work ethic to make it. Well, the dedication came, and his extraction abilities in packs and his disposal by hand were exquisite.

Problem was, he couldn’t kick.

Taking that weakness and making it into a strength – look at his goal kicking this year – and taking on the captaincy are no small feats.

Those my age or younger will only remember Gavin Wanganeen and Hirdy as our previous winners. None of us will begrudge welcoming Watson into the fold alongside those celebrated Bomber players.

In a nice touch, I was born in 1976 – the last time we had a Brownlow medallist before then – Graham Moss. My son now shares the same story…

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I came pretty close to missing two Grand Finals in a row. Last year, I was overseas and in the middle of the year without sport.

I was never going to ‘sneak a peek’ at the big game and took some solace in partying in Lisbon, Portugal. Fortunately for me, last year’s final ended up being a rubbish game and a really unlikeable team won… What? Oh that’s right, it was a freaking epic and the hated Pies lost to the most popular team of the last decade. My bad.

This year, though, I was primed to take in the second half of the season and the Finals campaign. My Bombers were up and about when May 24 came around (unlike my Lakers, who were knocked out of the playoffs two days before the end of the YWS) and there were signs that the top teams weren’t unbeatable. I was watching only one game per round and keeping things in moderation…

And then the wheels came off. 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

October – ‘worst sporting month of the year’

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The fluctuations of this 12 month journey never cease to amaze.

October used to be the one month of the year that, sporting wise, dismayed me, and contrarily, buoyed my wife! Footy season was over, the NBA season was yet to kick off and cricket was not yet on the cards. ‘What will I do when footy season’s over?’ I can remember thinking to myself. ‘I’ll have to … like, have dinners with people and go to movies and things on my Friday nights … ugghh.’ Apologies for the 14 year old female terminology, but you get the point.

‘This isn’t so bad…’

However, it never was as bad as it appeared. I did, somehow, always manage to survive without the ‘big game’ to look forward to. I genuinely enjoyed being around people without sport as the hub, interesting conversation topics still managed to be forthcoming and the earth continued to orbit the sun once every 366.26 days on it’s tilt of 23.4°. Yes I googled those numbers – I have a short attention span; so shoot me.

As this transpired, there was always a faint, ‘Hey this isn’t too bad. When footy season and the NBA kicks back in, I’m going to make sure it doesn’t take over like it used to.’

Yet it always did. 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.

Missing the Grand Final

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(Because of the fact that you can read this in real time, you can only take my word for it that this took forever to write! A rush out the door to catch a flight meant that I left a fair chunk of my left index finger on a piece of furniture I was packing away. 6 people almost missed our flight as a result of the initial stemming of the profuse bleeding. This was 6 days ago and my finger continues to give me my pulse and I temporarily type like my father, who writes in capital letters, just for the record. I appreciate your concern.)

My current trip includes Copenhagen, Berlin, Milan, Lisbon, Geneva and Frankfurt.

This sucks.

I really thought that the magic of Europe would offset the pain of missing the AFL Grand Final. These amazing cultures, architecture, sights and people; surely that would be more than enough to make me forget about a football game on (literally) the other side of the world that no one in my vicinity give two hoots about.

Wrong. Read the rest of this entry