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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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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

The final three posts – Mrs YWS has her say

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Before we go to Mrs YWS’ piece, I need to provide a decent dose of context. In my first weekend ‘back’, being able to watch sport, I came to two key realisations.

  1. A lot has changed and sport will not have the same pull on me that it once had. I enjoyed some quality time with the fellas, but all my online and TV watching has been pretty underwhelming, with the exception of last year’s AFL Grand Final. I wasn’t itching to get back to sport nor did I feel fulfilled from any engagement with it. The temptations down the line will still be there, but for now, it’s a non-event.
  2. This second one pains me to write – I think the life cycle of this blog is just about over. With the year without sport finished and sport not the focus it once was, I would only be leveraging the momentum built up over the last 12+ months. That wouldn’t be fair, as much as I have loved writing.

There are other passions and ideas in the mix, so stay tuned, but for now, there are 3 final posts that will be published to finish off this journey. Today is the first of those three.

‘Write my blog!’

I have been bugging Mrs YWS for ages to contribute in this forum. It’s not just guys who turn to unimportant or consumerist distractions in the midst of a chaotic lifestyle. Getting her take on what it’s been like this past 12 months, as well as giving her own insights on the crutches and temptations that await women was crucial.

Well, it took her to get to being 42 weeks pregnant to concur, but better late than never!

Thanks for writing this, Jo. It’s a really insightful piece. So, enjoy… =>

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A Year With Mr Year Without Sport

So I’ll admit that I didn’t notice that he was going sportless for the first few weeks. I just wondered why my previously reluctant husband was suddenly asking me if I wanted to go out for coffee with him. But not to look a gift horse in the mouth I drank my lattes and just shut the hell up!

More of these? What is there to complain about?!

I must admit, if anything, I noticed him absconding off to some or other quiet room of the house on his laptop and wondered if he was a) dying of cancer and had started writing his memoirs or b) I was really tipping him over more than usual and he needed to vent his frustrations via some kind of journal or email to a friend. Maybe our marriage wasn’t going well and hence all the extra coffees and attempts to spend time together?

In all reality, I was too busy with my own busyness and unsustainable practices to notice the lack of his… 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 month to go! The countdown begins.

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In one month from today, I can watch sport again.

Awesome!

It seems not so long ago that, fed up with another unfulfilling sport-filled weekend, the call was made to step away. Yet so much has changed and it’s the right time soon to re-enter a world that once upon a time I held so much stock in.

The plans have already been made with friends for Saturday night, May 25. I will get to see my Bombers in the Australian Football League again, the first time in what seems like forever.

We’ll also be throwing on last year’s epic AFL Grand Final, and I can fi-nally see Collingwood get their just desserts. Can’t wait to hear that ‘Coll-ing-wooo-oood’ chant when they think they’ve got it locked up. Gold.

But there’ll also be the banter, the heckling, the analysis, the big calls and of course, the ridiculous synopses and predictions.

Anticipation Read the rest of this entry

Fear – I don’t want this to end

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I was hoping to follow up the serious tone of Tuesday’s ‘5 regrets of the dying’ post with something far less serious; think, ‘Soccer – boring pastime or the most underrated form of entertainment in this part of the Southern Hemisphere?’! Ok, I admit that the title might need some tweaking, but you get my point…

But a seemingly harmless DVD last night changed all that.

We grabbed ‘Moneyball’ on DVD. Mrs YWS hadn’t yet seen it and she was sold on the concept before I had the ‘Pitt’ fully articulated. I was keen to see if Pitt’s performance was as mediocre as I had remembered it and if the movie as a whole, as I had built it up big time when I first saw it, was as disappointing as I – and most of my friends – thought it was.

For those with a good memory, this isn’t the first time Moneyball has been the focus in this forum. In fact, I was shocked to read this post and see that I really liked it the first time around. As time went on and Pitt was pushed for an Oscar, I must have gone into a subconscious anti-Pitt mentality that stemmed from, I don’t know, a combination of the knowledge that no way was he good enough in it to win an Oscar and some kind of repressed deep-seated support of Jennifer Anniston!

Profound

As I re-watched and thoroughly enjoyed Moneyball last night, 3 moments were quite profound. (If you haven’t seen it and intend to, don’t read the rest of this section.)

1.  The Boston Red Sox owner, in encouraging Pitt in his statistical approach which metamorphosed the game – even though the A’s were bundled out of the playoffs – tells him, ‘I know you’re takin’ it in the teeth out there. But the first guy through the wall; he always gets bloodied.’ Read the rest of this entry

Was the day after Christmas…

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Getting online on Boxing Day, I had a moment to think about what might make the front page news. Being the topic of a recent post, I knew it wouldn’t be about Christmas, maybe the Boxing Day sales, possibly the storms … definitely the cricket!

The Age, Dec 26

Yes! I am 1 for 1 and I’m not entirely sure I’m awake yet… 🙂

(As an aside, nice to see there that China didn’t break for the Christmas period and are continuing to jail ethnic Chinese staff working for Australian firms. Am so glad that they’re becoming the biggest market in the world…)

Christmas hailstones!

Christmas Day!

If you live in Melbourne, you may have noticed the storm on Christmas Day! We got hit hard, both where I live and at my dad’s property in Taggerty, about 100km east of Melbourne.

Driving home at 11pm, it quickly became apparent that this would be no ordinary trip back. There was debris everywhere and the 100km/h limit was quickly re-evaluated to about 40, in order to swerve around the different-sized parts of trees strewn all over the place.

It was seriously a perilous trip, Mrs E was not enjoying it either, and if I had been able to relax for a moment, I would have likened it to some kind of rally car event, or with the Senna doco still fresh in my mind, F1.

(Second aside – on the Senna doco, do yourself a favour. See it. One of the best docos you will ever come across. No narration, just pure footage of an incredible story and a heartbreaking tragedy for his family and the people of Brazil. It’s right up there as the best of all time, alongside ‘Wrestling with Shadows’, ‘Beyond the Mat’ and ‘Arrested Development’…)

Getting home safely (thank you God), thoughts about the different types of ‘sporting events’ we’d engage in over the Christmas period started to permeate.

So, here are the top 5 sporting analogies of the Christmas season! Read the rest of this entry