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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.

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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

Day #307 Down to the home stretch

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At about the 15 minute mark of walking the dog this morning, I managed some logical thought. Some quick maths which took a bit longer than usual made me realise that I am at day #307 in this year without sport.

Less than 2 months left.

58 days to go.

8 weeks, 2 days…

As I look back upon the journey, I’m really pleased that the low point of this journey – January 24 – is in the past. This was when I realised that the New England Patriots were in the Super Bowl and I was missing it, resulting in the most widely-read blog piece in the year so far.

At that time, I was suffering from yet another event that I had to miss, combined with the fact that I wasn’t really close enough to late May to begin the countdown to the end of this journey.

I was stuck in no-man’s land.

(Sidenote – I just re-read that piece. Man I was low! Thanks for stickin’ with me!!)

Super Bowl 2012. I missed it. I got over it...

‘Oh the irony…’

Ironically, there were a number of counter-intuitive decisions I made after the ‘Super Bowl incident’ that got the ball rolling towards a more positive outlook with which to see the year out –

  • Friends were asked to hold off on sports news,
  • I was tougher on myself on not sneaking peaks at news headlines or articles, and
  • In an unrelated decision, I am currently in the midst of going without surfing the net for Lent. Read the rest of this entry

My team’s in the Super Bowl – you have GOT to be kidding me!

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Tom Brady and the New England Patriots - Super Bowl bound...

I honestly think I could simply leave the title of this piece as it is, write nothing more, and you would still understand 85+% of my mindset right now.

The New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl.

I don’t get to see it.

You have got to be kidding me…

Two pieces of history

Before I go on, let me give you a little background to my relationship with NFL football and its premiere event, the Super Bowl.

Uh-uh

History No. 1.  A once a year friendship

Since I was about 15, I have watched the Super Bowl every year. I still remember watching it live one time and, keep in mind this thing takes 4 hours or more, every ad break featured an ad for Dr Pepper.

So sick of the relentless advertising, I vowed never to drink the stuff. Some 15 years later, I still haven’t had a sip. Some things you just have to see through…

A short time after that, I discovered another mate with a similar lean towards American sports, and a viewing buddy was found. Ironically, we would only get together for a once a year event, which seemed to work for us.

Rather than focus on the machinations of the game, we would vainly attempt to remember who played in the previous year’s event. Once that was yet again proved unsuccessful, we would move on to highlighting the peripheral aspects of the game that made us laugh. And believe me, in a game with more trash-talking, overweight or incredibly athletic players and more crazy fans than in any other sport, barring South American soccer fans, this was not a problem. 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