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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.

Maintaining perspective in a cacophony of noise

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NBA Playoffs 2013

It’s NBA playoff time! I know, I know, it’s a niche sport, not everyone is into it, the NBA isn’t even played in this country … why are you even writing about this?!*

(* Don’t make me write another cricket piece!)

Well, apart from the fact that half of the visitors to this blog are from the good ol’ US of A, this time of year ‘holds a special place in my heart’, I guess you could say.

You see, it was at almost this exact time, 2011, when I became overwhelmed by the amount of sporting options at my disposal. Frustrated with the constant lack of inspiration that came from immersing myself in a world of sport, this was the catalyst for what became the Year Without Sport.

The season

An 82 game NBA season (not a typo) brings about fluctuations in team focus, health and care factor. Tune into a nationally televised game and you’re more likely to get two teams who go all out in their endeavours to win, but there are limits even there to their enthusiasm.

"I'm bored, it's been a long season. I'm going to shave a giant star into my own head..."

“I’m bored, it’s been a long season. I’m going to shave a giant star into my own head…”

Sure they don’t want to be embarrassed with the whole world watching, but at the end of the day, it’s just another game with 81 counterparts. Oh, and there’s still a party going on afterwards that they’ll have to get to with enough energy to see through until dawn, giving them 90 minutes sleep before the next day’s practice. (Again, not a typo.) Read the rest of this entry

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

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

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

The 3 day test (again!)

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I feel privileged to have witnessed one of the great AFL Grand Finals on Saturday afternoon. The day quickly reminded me why in so many ways, it is my favourite day of the year. A house full of people, great food, drinks flowing, anticipation, excitement, and a top-class football match to boot. Pun intended…

I’d stated in last week’s piece that Grand Final day (or week) was not the time to conjure up accountability about our overt fascination with sport. ‘Enjoy the day’, we were told!

You see, I thought I was jibbed after missing last year’s classic. ‘How could we possibly get near an epic where a hated juggernaut – Collingwood – was topped by an equally impressive Cats unit, far and away the best team of the last decade??’

This year, when Hawthorn went up 29-10, there were thoughts that the event itself would be an anti-climax. We’d done all we could at Household Evans, now it was the players’ turns. Come on Sydney, give us something!

And give us something they did.

They’re a likeable team, the Swannies. It’s easy for Victorians to get alongside them. Based in NSW (duh!), they’re not in the eye of our media as often and most of us haven’t seen them play enough to fully form our dislike for the red and the white.

So when the celebrations began, most non-Hawks supporters joined in, ensconced in the camp of the underdog.

But for how long would these celebrations last before we all moved on?

Read the rest of this entry

Everyone has their limits

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Ever had your resolve truly tested?

I had a number of genuine challenges to the integrity of this journey last week. You see, what good would it be to go the full 52 weeks and then, with victory achieved, meekly re-immerse myself back into the world of sport, as if nothing had changed?

Three familiar challengers took decent shots at distracting me from the ultimate goal, though none can lay claim to a decent punch, let alone a knockout.

Number One: Lebron – Durant!

The first shot was the biggest, the N-B-A Finals. Of course, my Lakers decided to throw my YWS in my face and bowed out of the playoffs a mere TWO days before my year ended. Thanks for nothing, Kobe. Well, except for the 5 championships…

Still, the best possible matchup ensued, with the king Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and the evil Miami Heat matched up against the young, likeable, uber-athletic Oklahoma City Thunder, with superduperstar Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the bearded one, James Harden, whose nickname I can’t repeat here.

Although I have never made it a hard and clean rule, my goal is to not consume any more than two games in a week. In the past, I could do that in a night! Now, I’m different, and so are the rules. Read the rest of this entry