Firstly, let us recognise here today Adam Scott. There’ll be enough written about him over the next bit of time for me not to go into details but in light of such a fantastic achievement I will share the tweet of Peter Fitzsimmons, “CLASS OF ADAM SCOTT IN VICTORY: "There was one guy who inspired a nation of golfers and that's Greg Norman, & part of this belongs to him." Nice.
It’s amazing how in such a vast area one can become claustrophobic but spend some time in IKEA and I think you’ll appreciate this (maybe it’s just males). There’s just NO…..WAY…..OUT. Every time my female friend stopped and commented on the next display, “Oh now that would go nicely with a beach house in Noosa”, my mind kept wondering back to Edward Norton in Fight Club, “Like so many others I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. I’d flip through catalogues and think ‘what kind of dining set defines me as a person?’” I may also have been thinking of ways to knock myself out so as to avoid looking at any further sets.
This led me to the next 10 things I still think are great about sport. I’ve also included a couple of ideas suggested – thank you!
11. Being in a team – It almost reads a little too simply….but finding yourself in a team for the first time can be one of the really great moments. Perhaps it goes to the human condition of wanting to belong? Many things are improved when shared. A long day in the field, an amazing victory, the telling of a joke, a stupid error or a devastating loss. To look across or listen to a room and know that you’re in it together is like having Mike Hussey coming in at no.6, very reassuring.
12. Knocking in a New Bat – Being an extratec man myself (you mean I can use it straight away if I just put the contact on it?!) I certainly appreciated the suggestion of knocking in a cricket bat. Taking it home from the store and starting the process of readying it for action. There’s a pride and discipline involved and it’s yours. The tapping, the oiling and the tapping again. Driving your parents crazy as you sit in front of the television night after night until it’s finally ready to go. Just imagine the joy of discovering extratec in a house of four cricket loving boys. Still, not the same as knocking in your own.
13. The Hours Leading Up to the Melbourne Cup – Even if you’re not a huge racing person there’s that special feeling about a race that stops a nation. All of a sudden people who don’t breathe of a word of horse knowledge for the other 364 days suddenly appear like a winter snow. “Oh, I think he’ll run well, it’s little heavy out there today”. “Should finish stronger than the others given its track work over the last 12 months”. “I like the one in Pink and Blue, I’ll have a dollar each way thanks”. Sport, creating experts since the joust.
14. Rivalries – McEnroe vs. Borg, Bird vs. Johnson, Frazier vs. Ali, Lewis vs. Kenny, QLD vs. NSW, Collingwood vs. Carlton, Warne vs. Lara. In Grade 2 it was Scott Campbell-Lloyd vs. Warwick Walsh on the handball courts at lunchtime. These great rivalries sustain us in our love of sporting support. Governing bodies try to create rivalry rounds but the great ones don’t need to be forced down our throats. They are the ones that echo through generations.
15. Not Having to Go to IKEA on Saturdays – Yeah that’s right, NOT going to IKEA is one of the greatest things about sport. I know this is meant to be a written format but sometimes a picture says a thousand words….
16. Your Favourite Commentator – Dennis Cometti, Ray Warren, Richie Benaud, Kerry O’Keefe, Quentin Hull, Bruce McAvaney, Bill Lawry….we could go on. You've all got your favourite quotes and impressions, go on, give yourself a moment...."She's going to do it Cathy....."
When you have a favourite you will go out of your way to hear him or her in your living room. For me it is the descriptive Gordon Bray, the voice of rugby in Australia. When Gordon gives me background beyond the touchline, "And Matthew Burke, lining up to convert the Kefu try, whose Grandmother is crocheting and watching tonight from the great sporting community of Wagga Wagga and cheering on the Wallabies, it leaves the boot...." I feel immediately at home.
17. Nicknames – Pup, Magic, Punter, Beefy, Nobody, the Black Pearl, Alfie. Sport lends itself to these types of names, and coming up with one that sticks is even more fun. When a former team mate of mine with an awkward stance and exaggerated grip on the bat came out and thrashed balls to all parts of the ground, throwing himself into every shot, it was suggested that he looked like Animal playing the drums in the Muppets. He hasn't been known as Mark since.
18. Team Curses – The North Sydney Bears, Queensland winning the Sheefield Shield, the Collywobbles, the Curse of the Bambino, an Australian winning the Masters....oh wait. There's something quite fun about a team having this imaginary barrier that we can create in our minds that require something extraordinary for it to be broken. Of course the truth is winning anything requires planning, skills, work ethic and a bit of fortune but don't let that spoil the mythical curse - they're much more fun and the celebrations when they end are a joy to behold.
19. Playing Golf with Cane Toads – I wonder if we did a survey of golfers from Queensland (and now northern NSW), what percentage of them have ever practiced their pitching wedge on the ever growing cane toad population? My Brother and I found a few back in high school and each chose our favourite club. They both ended up in the wheelie bin - but only one remained there the next morning. Lesson being: Always complete your follow through.
20. The Comeback – When all seems lost for you or your side and all that's left to is pick up the spilt popcorn. Then from nowhere..... your team scores with still enough time on the clock to score twice. Australia II wins the 5th race of the Americas cup but still teeter on the edge of defeat at 3 - 2 down in the best of 7 races. Then they win the next race, score the next try and suddenly it’s even with one race or 60 seconds to go. And then…..from out of nowhere a moment you never forget, the length of the field try or Alan Bond lifting the boat to show Ben Lexcen’s keel and your Prime Minister declaring free days off work.