Reclaiming Sport – 50 Reasons: 1 through 5
Hello Readers (probably just Mum if I show it to her – Hi Mum),
For a little while now a combination of stories, media reports, hear say and perhaps even some element of personal knowledge I was feeling somewhat hollow and disenchanted around sections of the sporting world. Was tired of “professional athletes” complaining or selling each other out, of player managers who scrapped for the last dollar on contracts, of political jockeying amongst staff, management and boards to show who knew the most, who would receive the praise and who'd get to go on tour.
I’ve heard of emails from a player telling why he should be paid more than another three players who he would always hang out with and pretend they were friends. Players and their managers threatening to leave the team as another organisation is offering more only to push the dollars to huge portions of total salary, sign to stay and then say to the journalists that he bleeds for his team and team mates and that he never considered leaving. Heard Strength & Conditioning Coaches guarantee that a hamstring will never be torn on “his watch” only to….well you do the math.
Watching players in many sports behave badly on and off the field, drugs, alcohol before training and after injury, ignorance, arrogance, poor winners, even worse losers and….talking in the 3rd person – dear god, please stop talking in the 3rd person!
So enough of that rubbish and feeling sorry about some issues facing the industry – money over loyalty, arrogance over skills, Tom Waterhouse. Let’s keep a sceptical view on much of what goes on and why – but for now, even just for a little bit let’s talk about what is good.
Let’s talk about….50 Reasons That Make Sport Great.
We’ll try and go back to the 6 year old in all of us who fell in love with something sporting for all the naïve and right reasons. We’ll start with 5 pieces of theory and go from there:
1. The Sound and Smell of Opening a Can of New Tennis Balls – Yep, what a sensation. Pull back the lid and there is something magical about the moment. It’s better than smelling Mum’s Sunday Roast (poetic licence Mum). It means that play is about to happen, it means for people who like me move like a Rhino on ice skates, that you’re more likely to hit the ball on the first bounce and actually have a rally. Yep, great.
2. The Haka - When the Argentinians faced the All Blacks in the Quarter Finals of the 2011 World Cup at Eden Park I felt like giving a group of grown men in the Blue and White stripes a hug. They looked somewhat isolated. When the men in black produced the Haka it was if the Pumas were all alone and there was no way out (there wasn’t). How could you not enjoy this symbol of warfare between two tribes. The theatre, the aggression and quality. Wallabies talk about how to confront it yet respect it (do we walk towards it, smile, wear our tracksuits?). The crowds cheer, jeer and sometimes just sit and listen to it and I’m guessing that somewhere deep down even the opposition admire and occasionally fear it. Grown men walk to pubs openly saying, “Quickly, I want to get there for the Haka”. Priceless.
3. Putting last years’ shirt/jersey/skirt on and it still fits - That’s right you stared down the strength and conditioning program given to you by…..well you read something in the Men’s or Women’s Health magazine from a few years ago in the barber’s/hairdresser’s. Your off-season routine consisted of couch, ice-cream, beer, three jogging turned shuffling sessions and watching The Biggest Loser or Family Guy. But you’ve come to the start of the year and it slips on like it was last season. Gold! Let’s hope you’ve made the same team. I was going to write something about wearing your favourite supporters jersey but a friend I know (Hi Dan – it’s ok Mum I know him) would strongly argue that adults shouldn’t wear their team’s jersey to the matches, “They’re never going to pick you to play”. So let’s just be grateful for fitting into actual playing kit. And if not, you get new kit – so it’s win/win really.
4. Brian Lara’s Backlift - Not sure if this’ll appeal to anyone other than cricket watchers but if you’re not then all I ask is that you give it quick look to see if it has any effect….what’s the best comparison I can think of….it’s the same feeling you get when sunlight breaks through the on a cloudy day (that might be a bit much – sorry). For those of you who are cricket watchers, how good is it?! Wrists cocked, hands up, full flourish. On his day it didn’t matter who or where but the Lara and his backlift were going to hit you wherever the hell he wanted to – most often through cover point.
5. John Harms’ Writing - I don’t read enough of his work but when I do it warms my heart. The way he writes, the reasons he loves his sporting sides and the characters involved in his adventures. He is a great reason to read about sport. Anyone who has read his sporting trilogy, Play On, will surely relate. His love of Geelong, long before they won three out of the last five flags, the punt, the Australian Test side and his beloved Camira are unquestionable. Harms himself speaks of what sport can mean to him, “My fascination with sport is in part the sheer fun of play; of striking a five iron out of the middle...” (I guess I can’t use that one now?). Anyway, give him a try when you want to read about sport on a different note.
So there’s a start. It may not be a State of Origin type start but we’re in the game and just for the shortest amount of time remembered what it is to enjoy sport.