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He’s out – the first American pro sports player reveals he’s gay. But will he still be in the league next season?

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The man of the moment, NBA player Jason Collins

The man of the moment, NBA player Jason Collins

Don’t worry, I won’t spend the next few pages gloating over the Bombers’ Anzac Day victory over the Pies. It happened, it was glorious, I enjoyed it, (not) enough said…

Two good mates of mine played off in a basketball match last night. I was unaware of the game’s result, but woke up to a ‘Basketball star reveals he’s gay’ headline this morning. “What the hell happened last night?!” I texted my friends.

No, it turns out that Jason Collins, 12 year NBA veteran and bench player, decided to become the first active player in any of the four major US sporting organisations to reveal that he is gay.

Inspired by true events

Collins was inspired by the events of the Boston bombings – “The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect,” he wrote in Sports Illustrated. “Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?” Read the rest of this entry

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Great Scott!

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Adam Scott Masters win

So, I’m at my Christian Teachers work conference yesterday morning. There’s worship going on, there’s great musos, there’s a genuine buzz in the auditorium … and I’m following the end of the golf – the Masters at Augusta – on my iPhone!

Yep, there are just some things which transcend the normal day to day of work and life, and an Aussie doing something significant on the world stage is about as big as it gets.

There are a number of great Australian sporting moments that the average fan will be able to reel of.

What are yours?

The mighty Windies

For mine, there’s highs and lows. I remember as a kid being devastated by countless losses in cricket against the mighty West Indies. Read the rest of this entry

The top 5 features of the PRE-season!

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AFL marriage interruption

“Is it footy season alllllrrrready?!”

In your head, think of the whingiest, most nagging tone and repeat that previous sentence.

I’m sure each of us has copped this before from someone we know or love.

You know, when it’s still hot in the Australian summer and the hype begins about the footy season … our winter sport! State and international cricket games are still going on, yet our cold weather heroes are running amok in the burning sun, looking as fresh as daisies, leaving the club officials to complain about limited interchanges and travel arrangements.

And look to be honest, those loved ones who put up with our obsession with a bunch of men chasing around some pigskin do have a point. “Didn’t the season just end?!”

Still, there are a number of reasons why, in any sport, sometimes the best thing about the season is before the season … you know, when reality kicks in.

So, without further ado, here are the top 5 features of the off-season.

This trade Actually happened! Sure Kobe had never played a game, but still...!

This trade Actually happened! Sure Kobe had never played a game, but still…!

5. Player Trades

Regardless of your sport, you may only ever be just one player away from ‘almost’ to ‘champion’. Or if you’re an NBA team chasing Lebron James at the end of next season, from ‘absolute nobody’ to ‘legit contender for as long as the best player in the game suits up for you’.

In the AFL, the Hawks have had all kinds of shenanigans in this realm. How’s this for a rollercoaster ride? Lost a pretty good player. But really, they wanted a key big backman. And they got him! Ready to compete, right?!

Well … maybe for this season.

The best player in the game, their stud forward Lance Franklin has put all contract talks off until the end of the season. Which either means ‘Gary ‘I’m definitely going elsewhere’ Ablett, or Travis ‘I have no freaking idea what I’m doing’ Cloke.

AFL oh buddy

This is excruciating for Hawks fans, but genuinely entertaining for the rest of us, especially teams out west, where Buddy may be headed. (As an aside, I’ve already heard the “We always knew we were going to lose him” non-lament from a Hawthorn fan. God I loved last year’s Grand Final…)

You just never know when or if a monster trade will come your way. My Lakers were supposed nobodies until we traded for Steve Nash and the best big man in the game – Dwight Howard. I splurged for NBA League Pass on the back of this news! But then everyone sucked, so thanks for nothing.

Again, you just never know!

Obama hope

4. Hope

Ahh the beauty of off-season white noise! Without nine games a round to dissect within an inch of their lives, we are left with very few snippets of information regarding form, fitness and team cohesion to draw from.

So when anything little arises, like a one point win in a meaningless pre-season game, whispers about rising team unity and confidence, a player looking in top shape, a new game plan or a hot young prospect ‘finding form’, we jump on it like white on rice.

Any why not?! There’s nothing else to tell us otherwise…

Even for those teams expecting very little from their season, glimpses of real potential from some younger players, some good form and a decent effort on the field can take you from dreading the season, to allowing yourself to think, “If factors A, B and C align with D, we might just have a shot at this thing.”

Again, until reality kicks in!

Leverage man woman

3. Leverage

I haven’t played this card yet because the pre-season games have been on Foxtel, but if you win the argument with your significant other that some pre-season games are somewhat meaningful, there’s a tonne of leverage coming your way.

Stay with me, here. You see, if you pro-actively decide to not watch a game in order to be the ‘good’ boyfriend, dad, husband etc, this can pay itself back down the line during the season proper. “I can’t go out that weekend, hon. There’s a big game on. I missed ones earlier in the season, but I just can’t then…”

On second thoughts, why am I putting this in print?! Just forget it; I never wrote it, let’s move on.

'Under attack' ... no, no hyperbole here.

‘Under attack’ … no, no hyperbole here.

2. ‘Stories’

Poor journos. Our insatiable appetite for footy-related news doesn’t end when the siren sounds on the last Saturday in September. Over a long, boring summer in terms of football, they still have to churn out ‘newsworthy’ pieces to placate the masses.

This summer has been somewhat different, however. The drugs in sport scandal, match fixing, tanking (Melbourne, but nearly every club has done it), the report from the Australian Crime Commission, including information on players with direct links to organised crime syndicates and the Lance Armstrong disaster, has seen a more serious tone taken.

But that hasn’t stopped the amount of back story ‘news’ that has proliferated our senses. There’s convicted assaulter Dane Swan heading up the back page because he needs to play even better, where will Buddy Franklin go, rule changes, officials squawking at each other over salary cap concessions, gambling, interchange changes(!), and fights at music festivals alongside drunkenness in public places – just unthinkable for young footballers on holidays with tonnes of cash…!!

Smile enjoy life

1. Ignore it all!

Truly, the best thing about the time in between seasons is that you can just shut off the teev, turn off the phone, flick off the iPad and just, be.

Coffees, movies, bike rides, dinners, tennis matches, books, brunches, beach trips, BBQs, hikes, beers – the extended break enables you to sink in deeply and immerse yourself in your actual world.

And when the season proper finally kicks off, you’ll find that you haven’t been hanging on the edge of the seat, waiting for it all to begin, grabbing at any piece of ‘news’ that you’ve been force-fed over the summer.

You may even ease yourself back into it, missing a few early games, waiting for the rhythms of the season to kick in, finding out who are the contenders and who are the pretenders before you spend your valuable time and money.

There’s a whole other world out there, and if we were true to ourselves, it wouldn’t only be our significant others who bemoan the new season, wondering how the time went so quickly…

Losing. In more ways than one.

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NBA Jerry Buss passes

I was initially going to write today’s piece on sporting legends. Some of them have been in the news recently; those you truly appreciate, eg Michael Jordan, or because of the sport they’re involved in, you know of them, but never quite gravitate towards their greatness, admiring it from afar … think Black Caviar.

However, LA Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss passed away overnight, leaving a gaping hole in the NBA landscape and a Russian meteor sized crevasse in the heart and soul of a team I truly love.

Coinciding with James Hird’s role or complete negligence in his lack of a role in the Bombers’ drugs debacle, the figurehead of the other team I love may also be on his way out.

Losing people who define your team is jarring and there is a great fear in the future. So the legends can wait for now, as we need a little back story. Read the rest of this entry

Just. Let. Go.

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Cricket - Warne and Clarke

If you had told me two to three months ago that I was going to write three consecutive pieces on cricket, and four of the last five, I would have first asked you who the hell Australia were playing that summer, and then told you that you were a little bit Metta World Peace … err … Ron Artest … um, crazy.

Yet, on my busy Friday, as I grabbed my newspaper from the staffroom only for the purposes of throwing it into the recycling bin (yes, I’m that busy), there on the back page was an image of a defiant Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke, with the headline, ‘I want Warne’.

Now, before those ‘in the know’ hit me with facts regarding who actually writes the headlines and whether or not Clarke even alluded to that, let alone said it, I’m just going to assume he was talking about something like his favourite colour and our bastion of bad journalism simply sensationalised it. It’s the Herald Sun, peoples.

The name doesn't mean he still won't throw elbows...

The name doesn’t mean he still won’t throw elbows…

But make no mistake, that there is a strong sentiment in sporting circles that Warne could help us win the Ashes and return to the top of the cricket rankings if he was reinserted into the team, at the expense of … well, at the expense of no one, really. Sorry, Nathan Lyon, you’re in a no-win situation so long as the greatest ever is up and about. Read the rest of this entry

Finishing well – what Ricky Ponting can teach Australia!

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Cricket - Ponting retirement press conference

I was so rapt to hear about Ricky Ponting’s retirement.

I was truly disappointed for him that he didn’t have the form to warrant two more Ashes’ series. But I was happy for him that he is able to finish well.

Even if he fails both times in this final test against South Africa (and it looks like that may indeed be the case*) and we fail to take the mantle of the number one test team in the world (ditto**), there will be little gloss taken off the careers of one of the greatest batsman this country has ever seen. (*Blogger’s note – didn’t like being right on that one…) (**ditto!)

Finish well

It’s great to be able to finish well. Whether it be the end of a school year, a job, even a relationship … ok, maybe not a relationship! But it’s important that the positive characteristics of a long-term project are not marred by an ugly finish.

If Ponting had gone to England and we get smacked, as is very very likely, and then we come back here to face the Poms on our own soil and ditto the smacketh, there will be hell to pay. Need further proof? Less than a week ago, we were two lousy balls away from becoming the best team in the world. On Sunday, South Africa asserted themselves and boom, in Monday’s paper, there’s an article saying what’s wrong with the national squad.

What’s wrong with the squad!? We’re facing the best test nation in the world, who won’t just roll over and die like so many other weak opponents over the last two decades! Read the rest of this entry

Testing times – the NBA returns!

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We are one day away from the end of the worst sporting month of the year, bar none! October brings us ‘anticipation’ about (a) little men who race horses, the trainers who prepare them or the actual freaking horses, (b) how much money you’re going to lose while punting – sidenote; we’re Aussies, it’ll be a lot! – or (c) how drunk you’re going to get at The Cup.

No thanks.

For others though, October is the countdown for the NBA basketball season. You know, those immensely tall, mostly black athletic freakazoids who amaze with their skills and finesse?!

Longest sidenote ever

Another sidenote that’s not really a sidenote – I feel for those who are passionate about only one team or sport. For a lot of Aussies, this is the AFL. And look, I love footy as much as anyone, well, really, more than most. And when it’s all said and done, give me a Bombers premiership over a Lakers or a Man U title.

But what the hell do you do between October and April?! Read the rest of this entry