A world without sport is a bit shit right?
In an attempt to bring a bit of fun into the world a bunch of Raiders and rugby league fans got together on Saturday night, banged on the 1989 grand final and tweeted along. It was fun. The hashtag – #COVID1989GF – even got to the number two trending topic in Australia.
Later that night, not in response to us, but rather to AFL fans doing similar things, Richard Hinds called the behaviour of watching old games “a bit desperate” and that in these times we should focus on life without sport.
It was an interesting comment that many supported. To me the idea central to it is that sport is obscuring the view of what’s most important in these frankly horrible times. The desperation is to be distracted, and cold turkey will be akin to stopping to smell the roses, a revitalising return to What Really Matters. Let’s call it John Harvey Kellog without the delicious breakfast cereal.
Of course, this is bullshit. For starters in dark times fun is really acutally important. There may be no sport, but there also is a hanging fog of uncertainty, and the sword of Damacles dangles over a society that makes everyday existence not much fun. So complaining that people might be seeking a distraction from the anxiety of health and job woes feels silly at best, and borderline cruel at worst.
One of the, though not the biggest. impacts of Covid-19 has been that it has forced into (or exacerbated) isolated units of society. We are not able to spend time with our friends, our family, even our colleagues or the barista we make small talk with because she loves the Raiders. The small moments of being around people and sharing an experience have largely been torn away. The beauty of being a part of something bigger than ourselves now has to be expressed through not being with people, which makes it much more difficult to really feel in my experience.
We’re all looking for ways to connect to people outside our home. This Friday somewhere near to 500 million people (all numbers approximate) downloaded the Hangout App to have a drink with mates that they couldn’t see in person. It’s a logical, if not quite as good, way to see people you love.
The next night some of us got together to relive one of the greatest moments our favourite sport has created, and got to enjoy the virtual company of intelligent and witty people (and me!). You might say it’s not as good as the real thing (I disagree – this was a metric fuckton of fun), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthy.
So maybe we should be all stopping to smell the roses. I do that 166 hours a week at the moment, between working from home, trying to keep a toddler sane while keeping him couped up as much as possible, and not getting the ‘Rona. And I am in a startingly fortunate position compared to most. Spending two hours with people I’ve by and large never met, but actually consider I ‘know’ (the virtual world! It’s amazing!) was like oxygen to my week.
So no, i’m not going to ‘detox’ from sport. I’m going to lean in more, and embrace the connections, networks and community that I can access, that can make me feel human and happy for two hours every now and then. When the real stuff comes back, it’ll be the same people (and more) that I’ll be talking to.
It’s not all that matters. But it sure as hell matters to me.