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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

It’s 2012! How cricket needs to get itself out of ancient history

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(Disclaimer! – I drafted this piece before the Cowan, Hussey and Clarke explosions. I still think South Africa was hardly done by early on but yes, now … not so much!

And again, for any remaining Michael Clarke haters out there – three double centuries in a calendar year … yeah, I think he was the right man for the job – tattoo, sports cars, ex-girlfriend-supermodel notwithstanding…)

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If there’s one sport that seemingly evokes little passion nowadays, it seems to be our former favourite pastime of the summer.

I had a couple of interesting interactions with friends over the weekend about cricket, which surprised me because most fans only get into the cricket when it’s the Ashes. But aside from that one major rivalry – and it is a great one! – there appears to be an ever-dwindling passionate fan-base.

Our interest may be piqued when we square off against India, but can anyone tell me who we played in last year’s One Day Series? Where did we finish in the 20/20 World Cup? Who knocked us out? Did we even win the last 50 over World Cup?

Bored at the cricket And it’s raining. Who woulda thunk it!?

Cricket seems to be the sport to have on … when there’s nothing else on. Read the rest of this entry

They’re not supermen

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Just before last week’s blog was posted, the tragic news came through about the death of John McCarthy.

For the uninitiated, McCarthy, an AFL footballer for Port Adelaide and before that, Collingwood, became lost and disoriented on his end-of-season trip to Vegas. From a 9 metre casino roof, he attempted to jump onto a palm tree about one metre away so that he could climb down.

A fall ensued and the impact took his life about thirty minutes later.

I didn’t want to halt last week’s piece by jumping to conclusions about how this event occurred, or why he was apart from teammates, or in such a fragmented mental state a mere few hours after landing in the ‘city of sin’. They are still questions that need answering, but from more developed minds than I…

It has, however, had me thinking about the invincibility that so many sports stars feel.

For those who play a contact sport such as AFL, NFL and rugby, the courage they have to demonstrate on the field means that there is nothing to fear off it.

Nothing.

And this is where we start to encounter problems. 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

‘Tomorrow’ – what lies ahead in 16 days’ time

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Last night, Mrs YWS and I finished the entire 7 seasons of the best drama ever made, The West Wing … for the 5th time! With our due date for our first bubba a mere 8 days away, the latest from The Voice and Master Chef were cast aside, well, recorded to the hard drive, as we churned out the final two episodes.

I’m not sure how many times you can watch a show without it completely losing its impact. With the depth and complexity inherent in so many of the characters thanks to genius screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, you can watch it through the lens of different characters each time you go through all 7 series. But eventually, it’s going to lose its effect. I think we’re about there.

In the final moment of the show, Martin Sheen’s character President Bartlet is asked what he’s thinking about as he flies home to begin a new life. ‘Tomorrow’ was his answer. Roll the credits.

Although I had seen it before (4 times!), it seemed an underwhelming final moment. That was the best they could come up with!? Not even a ‘What’s next?’ – Bartlet’s go-to line?? Why they couldn’t get ousted writer Sorkin back for $1m an episode for the last couple of chapters is beyond me. They had him on screen in the closing moments! Why not get him to pump out the finales? Alas, I digress…

My tomorrow

The closure did get me thinking about my own re-entry to the world of sport in 16 days’ time.

  • What will it look like? Full immersion or a soft re-entry? How much is too much?
  • Will the blog continue?
  • Should I watch a whole lot of events that I’ve missed?
  • What about online – reading articles and game recaps?
  • Are there ground rules that could be helpful to navigate the early stages so that a year’s worth of good work isn’t instantly undone??

So yeah, there are a couple of factors to weigh up on my flight home from DC to New Hampshire. Read the rest of this entry

Why not use technology to help?

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This is a very difficult day to highlight an area of sport that I’m thankful to be missing at the moment. You see, because there’s television news updates, and pop ups, and headlines, and big screens in shopping centres, and online images, and people who text me, I am aware that my two favourite cricketers had big days yesterday. Huge.

Ponting finally got his century and hopefully buys himself a bit of time in the process to prolong an amazing career. And then our captain makes over 250, is still not out, and could push for something truly special today.

And even Mike Hussey sits on 55 and could push for a much-needed century. (Blogger’s update – which, of course, he did!) Hussey, the focus of the last post, was terribly unlucky in the first test and had his career placed in jeopardy as a result of a farcical decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Clarke and Ponting were major elements that came up when I first realised I would be missing the entire summer of cricket in a November post. I doubt that there’s now any focus whatsoever on Clarke’s ex-girlfriend or the tatts. Silence, haters…

Meanwhile, throughout all this yesterday, I went shopping for health insurance. I could go into detail as to why, but I’m already bored with the topic and figure that you must be too.

Serena injured. No comment...

(I’m also aware that Serena Williams could be out of the Australian Open. Unfortunately, as it’s not because of yet another tantrum or threatening to kill more officials and is in fact due to an injury, I won’t make fun of her. Sigh…)

Surely it can help

A natural segue from the Hussey and cricket debacle is to the use or non-use of technology in sport. There’s nothing more infuriating than a blatant travesty of justice in the sporting arena that can be easily identified simply by looking at a screen. We’ve all familiar with them –

  • Game winning shots in basketball incorrectly allowed or disallowed.
  • Goals in AFL that came off hands or the wrong team or even the goal post.
  • Soccer goals that went over the line and then spun back out that no one saw, well … except for the millions watching on television…
  • Players given out or not out in cricket or catches claimed that have clearly hit the turf.
  • Touchdowns claimed where the player didn’t actually catch the ball, but simply hugged the ball next to him as it and he skidded along the ground.

Kobe with a fallaway 3 for the win. Both the game clock above the scoreboard and the white rim around the edge of the backboard are looked at in instant replays. The backboard edge turns red when the clock has run out. Oh and by the way, he hit the shot.

In all of the above situations, the integrity and the results of the games have been disaffected. Championships and premierships altered. Careers compromised. Millions of fans outraged. Countries at odds. That’s not an exaggeration – Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, anyone?!

Cheat

Read the rest of this entry