So as you may have gathered, I’m a bit of a sport fan. There aren’t many sports I won’t take a look at or have a go at (I’ll elaborate further later on). But I thought I’d take this time to give you all a little insight into the man behind the love of sports. Also keep in mind that I grew up in a country town about 2 hours north of Melbourne, Australia so some sports won’t be all that common to a world audience.
I turned 38 in January and I’ve crammed quite a bit of aerobic and athletic activity in those years. When you have 2 parents that both played their share of sport, you don’t have much option but to follow in their footsteps. My father played golf and with Mum they both played tennis and badminton. Mum also played a rather unknown sport called Vigoro (trust me… it’s real! Check the proof here), we often took joy in mocking her for playing such a game that doesn’t seem to have seen the light of day in the last 50 years! In a nutshell it’s a mix between cricket and baseball… and for those keeping count, her top score was 62 not out!
My earliest memory of playing sport was when I was about 8, playing badminton in the local church hall hitting a shuttlecock over a table. My wife has given me grief for almost 10 years saying that badminton isn’t a real sport, tell that to those that have played it at the Commonwealth Games! It took me all around the state until I was 17 and kept playing for many years after. People see the small court and think “it doesn’t look too difficult, not sure you’d work too hard”. My answer is “grab a racquet and get down the other end of the court, you’ll find out!”.
I also played tennis as a child until my mid 20’s, shouldn’t need to spend too much time explaining this one! I was lucky enough to play on grass courts as well as hard court which was a nice treat, not all towns in the area where I grew up had those facilities. I didn’t excel at tennis as highly as I did in badminton (my older brothers will love me saying that!) but I had more than enough competitive drive to compete at a reasonable level. Taking a day trip to watch the world’s best at the Australian Open was always a highlight, if you get the chance to take in a major tennis tournament you should definitely take it up.
By the time I began high school my curiosity for other sports grew, which led me to 2 other sports that would eventually occupy me up until this day. My father and 2 older brothers all played golf, naturally I followed suit. My first exposure to golf was to use my mother’s old clubs and bag (vintage at the time) but I was hooked. I joined at Mooroopna Golf Club as a junior and played there for about 13 years. My handicap got as low as 10 but could never get to single figures, another thing my brothers have over me! If you’re ever in the area you should take the time to play 9 or 18, I was there only a couple of months ago and the course is in sensational condition. I’ve since moved to Melbourne and have joined up at other courses where I was able to get my handicap down to… 8!!! If nothing else, I have my old man sport in my later years!
The other sport that I’ve continued for the last 25 years is basketball. From my prior blogs you’ll gather that I have quite a passion for it, it’s probably my favourite sport of all.
My first memory of watching any kind of professional game was the Christmas Day matchup of Chicago and Detroit in the 1990-91 season. Chicago were trailing until the second half when they ran over the top of the Pistons to win by 10. I also remember being at my grandmother’s house with my family for lunch and being utterly rude to everyone as I watched the 1991 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte. Pretty much from then I was hooked, playing and watching basketball when I could. And even as I write this I’m watching San Antonio blow out Oklahoma City in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi finals.
My friends and I put together a team and played for many seasons in our local competition. I even got to the point where I was picked to represent the area in a league, that only lasted for 2 games but still, pretty cool! Something about hearing your national anthem before you begin a game that gets you up… even though there might only be 20 people watching!
I them moved to Melbourne where I continued playing with my brother and some of his friends who had a regular game for years. We were quite good, making the finals most seasons and making a couple of Grand Finals. But like the Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s, we couldn’t get over the hump. I used to have quite the temper (my side doesn’t believe it but plenty of people have seen it first hand!), but as I’ve gotten older I’ve taken more and more enjoyment in the participation of sport and less caught up in the result. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win but I’m not going to break golf clubs and badminton racquets if I don’t.
What do I play now? I moved to a different suburb about 3 years ago and have played very little basketball since, but I’m about to start playing on and off which I’m looking forward to. I’m also playing golf now and then which I still enjoy as much as ever. If there’s anything you should take from this rambling version of a blog, it’s this… enjoy whatever it is you like doing and play it for the fun and enjoyment. There are too many things that life throws up without losing sleep over a missed free throw or a 3 putt from 10 feet.
Keep smiling and enjoy your sport!