With the Australian federal election looming and likely military action in Syria escalating, I should be seeking solace in the comforting bosom of sport.
But for some reason, I am not. Why? This troubles me. What seismic shift has taken place within my general psyche that a hearty fix of round/oval ball action no longer provides me with the placebo kick I need to move on with life?
There are several factors presumably. Age, for one. I guess that, moving well into the second-half of my mid-20s – the mid/late region – I have discovered, through bitter experience, the sheer futility of following a professional sporting team.
I have adopted a realist mentality towards sport. It’s true; I am far from the idealist youth I once was, when I would trek to far-flung Western Sydney ovals to support the Canberra Raiders during their diabolically unsuccessful late 90s era in the hope they would sneak an unlikely victory against a far superior opponent. Now I need to see seven wins on the trot before I can feign some form of enthusiasm towards a “finals charge.” Don’t fuck with me, Raiders, I’m too busy to keep watching you fail.
I have witnessed players’ entire careers unfold as my own stutters along like a Clinton Schifofscke kick return. I remember when Braith Anasta was a young, spritely and promising five-eighth – and now he’s a grizzled, slow back-rower taking up far too much salary cap space. I watched Trent Barrett rise up through the ranks at Ilawarra and inexplicably into a Kangaroos jersey – and now he’s apparently part of the State of Origin coaching staff, despite a penchant for public pushups in his underwear and an adorable inability to string successive words together.
Hence, I’ve realised that dumb-as-fuck, yet mercurially talented, athletes are a dime-a-dozen in this country – and therefore one should not invest too heavily in a single player or team. Being a Raiders fan has taught me this key life lesson. The Raiders this year have faced unspeakable adversity, yet the Riverina pastures are so green and fertile with junior athletes that the next breed of Breezer-drinking, cop-dodging Dugans will be upon us quicker than a Brett Stewart wink.
My tip for young adults suffering from unshakable sporting ennui? Keep emotionally distant from your chosen sporting team, for they will hurt you immensely. However, don’t feel bad about jumping back on the bandwagon when they’re doing well. As a long-time supporter, you’ve earned the right to be flaky.
Sport is a cycle… as is life. Drink up.
By Dave Edwards