This sporting life

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Permalink

Not long before I finished work (taking a redundancy and making my sea change) I was privy to a conversation about football. I can’t now remember the details. It might have been Aussie Rules, or Ruby Union, or Rugby League. Or perhaps even Soccer or Gridiron.

Anyway, someone asked me if I’d be watching the [insert relevant sport] game that weekend.

Before I could tell them I’d rather gnaw off my own arm, a work colleague responded for me. “Oh Deb’s not into sport,” she said.

liverpool-fans_1448235b

Source: telegraph.co.uk

And I have to admit I was temporarily gobsmacked cos… it was indeed true. At the time. But hearing someone else say it was a tad confronting.

You see I hadn’t always been incredibly #meh when it came to tennis, cricket, football and the like. In fact… people who know me from the first half of my life would tell you I was the complete opposite.

I was sports-mad.

My childhood was spent traipsing about after my brother to various sports, or to football with my father. Even I spent hours and hours and hours each week training and playing basketball.

At university I was really only interested in athletes. It wasn’t that I was that groupie-like; rather I’d been surrounded by a family of athletic males who excelled at sport and I took it for granted that representing the State or similar wasn’t that big of a deal.

I’d grown up being woken to watch Wimbledon in the wee hours, spent many-a-weekend and summer with cricket on the TV and listened to my father (over)analyse every single game of Rugby League he watched.

sports_clubs

Source: australia.edu

My first flatmate and I used to wander all about Brisbane to watch anything and everything: basketball, baseball, gridiron and rugby league. Indeed, I eventually worked at a national Aussie Rules club for a while and had to quickly learn as much as possible about a sport once only tolerated by Victorians.

Things changed when I went overseas. It was the early-mid 1990s and the internet wasn’t yet on our radar. My parents bought a fax machine and each Monday would fax me two pages: one a typed letter; and the other a photocopied page of ALL possible national sporting results from the previous weekend. Initially I read through the fine print eager to know how certain rugby league or union teams were progressing, or the latest cricket results… but slowly and surely I stopped caring.*

I realised that I actually would much prefer TWO pages of news from my family, rather than sporting results. My father’s letters often just informed me he’d cooked the veges for that night’s dinner or mowed the lawn…. and yet that was the information I was yearning for. News of my loved ones.

AustralianCricketFans

When I eventually returned to Australia I was a changed woman. I’d like to say I was a better person, but I’m not so sure about that. I was however completely uninterested in sport. Like… UTTERLY.

My father found this confusing and would still want to talk sport when he called. “Did you see the game last night?” he’d ask.

I remember taking my niece to a national basketball game when she was very young. It was the early 2000s and just 10 years earlier I went and saw EVERY game I could possibly see. This time it was different. My niece was only used to the ballet and was surprised people were so noisy. I, on the other hand, was surprised people were so bloody passionate.

“How much are they paying you ref?” called people in the crowd, and I was stunned that people were that angry and rude. And then I remembered… I was once the same. I once cared that much about the sport. Most sports. Any sport.

But no longer.

I had a conversation with some friends about tennis the other night and it was strange, remembering back to those times. It’s funny to have a history of something about which those who’ve known me for the last 15 or so years know nothing. I know it’s hardly like I was a rocket scientist in a past life or anything, but still…

* Around the time I went to live in Africa I was madly (I mean MADLY) in love/lust with South African cricketer Hansie Cronje… so while I lost interest in other sports, my love of cricket remained. At least until I discovered he was married.

Are you a sports fan? 

22 Comments
  • Toushka Lee (@Toushkalee)
    January 8, 2014

    I went through a similar transition when I moved from Christchurch, New Zealand – Rugby’s heartland. When we got to Melbourne we discovered that Rugby wasn’t really a “thing” here. Every other bloody sport was, but rugby, not so much. After a year of searching out the pubs that played the rugby, we kind of lost interest. We tried to get interested in AFL… but I think you have to have been drinking the water in Melbourne since birth to like and or understand that game.

    • Debbish
      January 8, 2014

      I know. I spent some time in Victoria a few years ago and was really shocked at the ‘passion’ for AFL. It was front page news nearly every day and the people I spent time with talked about various players as if they knew them intimately.

  • Char
    January 8, 2014

    I can remember most of my youth spent lounging in front of the television for days on end watching test cricket. I’m talking about the Lilley/Thompson era. I knew all the cricketers names and what they were good at. Now I don’t know how people can sit for more than a few minutes watching it. And I can’t even tell you what country Dave Warner (he was in the paper yesterday) plays for.

    I still love to watch football – and I mean the round-ball, real version of football that we used to call soccer. You can’t take your kids to play hundreds of games without developing some interest in it.

    • Debbish
      January 8, 2014

      Yes I’m from the Chappell, Kim Hughes type era myself Char. I was actually never really into soccer I must admit, but it’s become increasingly popular here and the US etc in recent years I realise!

  • Jo Tracey
    January 9, 2014

    I was a serious sporting groupie- rugby league & cricket. I used to go to both with my Dad (in Sydney) & later with hubby (in Canberra). I went off rugby league at about the time of the Bulldogs Coffs Harbour scandal & haven’t been for years. These days I go to the AFL if I’m in Melbourne during the season, & watch the high class football that is hubbys over 45’s soccer (although most are over 50…). I watch the cricket on telly & love nothing better than a road trip listening to the abc’s commentary of the test- it’s the sound of summer to me…but I couldn’t be gaffed going these days.

    • Debbish
      January 9, 2014

      It’s weird isn’t it?! I used to hero-worship many athletes and now I often just feel a sense of disdain (particularly for those who I realise aren’t really worthy of the hero-worship!).

  • EssentiallyJess
    January 9, 2014

    I’ve never particularly cared about any sports really. I do watch the AFL with Boatman and when I watch it properly (not get distracted by my phone) I do really enjoy it and like yelling at the ref’s.
    Can’t stand tennis or cricket though. Just so boring!

    • Debbish
      January 9, 2014

      Oh Jess, I’m behind in my IBOT reading….

      I’m fairly sure I once yelled at refs too, though I can’t imagine caring enough nowadays!

  • Ness
    September 26, 2016

    I guess you can change and grow out of things. I never caught footy fever at all. And I seriously detest cricket. I’m practically UnAustralian! (If that’s a word). Though there are aspects of sport that are worthwhile the hooligan (now there’s a word you don’t hear anymore…) factor also puts me off.

    • Debbish
      September 26, 2016

      True. I think soccer in England’s had that reputation for a long time Ness – particularly in some parts!

  • Denyse Whelan
    September 26, 2016

    What an interesting story Deb! I loved reading this and maybe, like life, things have their season? I guess though that your connections with your dad were particularly special and then..things changed and you moved (on as well). As a parent/grandparent I have been like that a bit when I have remained connected by something that is no longer as relevant or interesting to them but I did not pick up the cues. I digress! You have a really good knowledge of sport and sporting people so somewhere in the back of your memories who knows what may emerge to help you in any books you may write!! I am more ‘interested’ in sport this year because it’s only me and hub here now and he enjoys the watching of the playing and I enjoy the stories behind the people so we get to talk more. I will always be grateful for some sporting knowledge. I am good at catching a ball in slips! Well, I was!! Thanks for linking up today and spreading the word. You are good friend xx

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      No worries Denyse. I keep wondering if something sporting-like will pique my interest (again) but it hasn’t happened so far!

  • sanchthewriter
    September 26, 2016

    Hansie Cronje was such a sad story…I admired him and the South African team {after my first love, Australia} and was devastated when he got caught for match-fixing. I still think his death was not an accident. Like you, I think I was a lot more into sport when I was back in India…I think over time, I’m not as obsessed with cricket as I used to be. I still watch it occasionally in the summer and follow a bit of how we go but I no longer do late nights watching games and needing to know who is coming during the summer.

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      Oh I ADORED Hansie. ADORED him and yes the match fixing thing was devastating… my biggest fear before then (other than the fact he was married of course) was that he sounded TOO religious for me…

  • In An Unguarded Moment
    September 26, 2016

    I can see why you would have wanted info about your family more than the sport! I must admit…. I’m still a sport lover. I’m not a raving fan or anything, but I’ll watch most sports. Soccer is about the only thing I don’t find all that interesting…. I’ll even watch lawn bowls on TV!

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      Lawn bowls? That’s very impressive… I don’t think I ever got hooked on it! (And soccer I’ve never fully understood… a bit like hockey!)

  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    September 26, 2016

    That’s interesting Deb, that you once followed sport and now aren’t interested. I, on the other hand, have never been good at sport and never been interested in it either!!! One of the reasons I fell in love with the hubster is that he was a rare Aussie male that didn’t really get into sport either! (Except for motor racing LOL)

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      Oh yes, the guys I liked were young were all very into sport – it was kinda a prerequisite cos that’s all I knew back then.

  • inthegoodbooksblog
    September 27, 2016

    I used to go to the football almost every weekend as a child as my parents are mad Collingwood supporters. I was so into it back then, but since getting married (I married a Carlton supporter), and having kids, I have to admit that I have lost interest. I still watch the footy on tv if the Magpies are playing, but I haven’t been to watch a live game in years. I do like watching tennis, but I am not into many other sports. I’d much rather be reading! 🙂

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      I’m exactly the same on the book vs sport front nowadays, but it probably would have been a close decision two-three decades ago!

  • Kat @AnAussieinSF
    September 27, 2016

    That’s an interesting transition! My family was never really into watching sports when I was young. My parents didn’t have a team that they barracked for in any sport, although my Mum would watch Wimbledon off and on. I didn’t get into soccer until I got older and started watching World Cups and now I’m a Western Sydney Wanderers fan but my brothers couldn’t care less.

    • Debbish
      September 27, 2016

      My family was the exact opposite Kat. Sports-mad. Well, not really my mother though she followed sport by default I guess.

I'd love to hear your thoughts