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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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Running with The Heard

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Heard article pic

It’s funny what a break can do for the soul, and how much can happen in seemingly such a ‘short’ period’ of time.

Believe you me, six weeks in the lifespan of this ‘year without sport’ is not a lot, considering the journey began over 20 months ago, but much has happened since I signed off 2012. (Ok ok, it was Craig O’Donoghue who wrote the final piece for the year…!)

Between Team Evans getting bikes, Australian Open tennis, 20/20 epics, NBA hoopla, cricket Test domination, tennis victories – for me personally, not Aussies at the Open or any of our favs for that matter, NFL disappointment, me using up all out internet usage on sport, Serena losing and taking it like a champ, A-League games of genius from the Melbourne Victory, Tomic doing his part to win back part of the Australian sporting public before – naturally – throwing it all back in our faces while hooning, one day 50 over internationals that no one wants to go to, seeing the GOAT of tennis (Greatest Of All Time) – Roger Federer in person and up close – for free!, Super Bowl blackouts, Warnie at the cricket, Warnie at the tennis, Liz at the tennis!, was Liz at the cricket?!, the list goes on and on. And on.

Um, lights, someone??

Um, lights, someone??

Needless to say, there’s a lot to write about, and the topics won’t dull down for quite some time.

Which is fortunate, as it seems right to end this blog when the one year anniversary of my return to sport occurs on May 24 of this year. 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

Superbad comforters

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Hey Frenchy, pick on someone your own size, and sex … and age

Before we begin today, it seems that the French sportsmen are getting themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Today, there’s the footage of the French steeple chaser who, after win-ning the 3,000 metre event, fully shoves a mascot right in the face. The problem? Well, besides the fact that the mascot was only trying to give him a gift bag (you know, as congratulations for winning the gold medal and all), it was being worn by a 14 year old girl. Silly angry Frenchman…

The national soccer team were also knocked out of Euro 2012. Don’t feel bad, Frenchies, a 2-0 loss isn’t so bad, considering what Italy served up in the final (0-4).

And then, Frenchy counterpart Gilles Simon brought up what most men on the pro tennis tour believe but are too afraid to say, that women don’t deserve the same pay as men. We looked at this topic in January, after Sharapova received the same amount for capitulating in her final within an hour as Nadal did in going down to Djokovic (damn it!) in over 5 hours in what has been touted as the greatest final ever.

We won’t go into more of it here, therefore. I’m with the men here, by a long margin. Yet I do have to give it to, of all people, my nemesis – longtime nasty bully who once threatened to kill a line judge by shoving a ball down her throat – Serena Williams, who actually brought some common sense to the topic.

I shall dishonour the French behaviour by refusing to eat French Fries during my holidays. For today only. It’s the least I could do.

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Blocked

About 3 weeks ago, I had a good mate block ‘Safari’ on my iPhone. As I’ve reflected before, I have found that with all my down time around being home with my newborn son, I was far more prone to killing time by surfing the net. I was losing all my battery life within a day; I initially blamed Apple(!), and was filling in time wastefully.

So off it went. Currently I’m getting 2+ days of battery power. No coincidence there!

Yet, distractions abound.

I may have solved the phone dilemma, but my laptop and I still have issues.

Want to ask me about the NBA free agency situation and where Dwight Howard, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams are headed? Go ahead. I’ve got all the details. Carlton’s issues in the AFL with coach Brett Ratten? Yep, up to date there too. Who got who in the NBA draft and who they should have drafted instead?! I’m your guy. Read the rest of this entry

I have a son!

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World, meet Josh…

Dear Josh,

Well, you weren’t too pleased when you arrived, but dude, after 42 weeks, what did you expect?! You weren’t gonna do it yourself, so we had to call your bluff. And to be blunt, at 4.61kg, aka 10 pound 2, mum is particularly pleased with that decision.

You are so new to this world, yet already you have made such an impact. They gave you to me to hold moments after you were born at 10.33pm, May 30. By the way, in that 40 second or so delay, you moved from 10.32 – Magic Johnson’s number, to 10.33 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Both are from the Lakers, but only one agreed to give me his autograph. You guess which one – the fun loving, uber-skilled, best point guard of all time, or the grumpy bald man who played with glasses until he was 42?? Yep, I thought you’d get it…

Anyway, when they gave you to me, it was just so natural. You see, I’m normally not great with babies. Am I holding them right? Am I supporting the head properly? What will their parents think? It’s so delicate – will I break it?! But with you, it felt right straight away. You felt safe in my arms. You are safe in my arms. 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

1 week to go – what to see, miss and find!

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So close…

358 days down, 7 to go!

It’s a little surreal to be writing about the end of the year without sport journey, particularly in light of the fact that my wife is currently 1 day overdue. As close as the end of the sport hiatus is, it hasn’t been in the forefront of my mind. A pending bubba is…

Still, come next Thursday, in order to not go too crazy trawling through archives, iTunes and YouTube in search of lost sporting moments over the last 11.75 months, I asked a couple of people for a sporting event that I have to see, one that I should miss and a left field event that not many may remember.

There’ll be the obvious ones of the NBA Finals, the AFL Grand Final and WrestleMania, but what else is out there that I have to get to, may not have even heard of, or should definitely miss? Here’s their take on things.

Bomber fan, legend and sports journo

The choices, the choices.

12 months of sport that one person has avoided. Major events like the Grand Final, epic batting performances in cricket and WrestleMania.

But when you step out of your cocoon and look at the world through different eyes, context is the most important thing you should chase.

I’ve been asked to provide three distinct options for Mr YWSWIATBF (Mr Year Without Sport Who Is About To Become A Father). [Blogger’s note – that acronym’s going on my CV!] Here are my responses. Read the rest of this entry