2016 from the Sidelines

As the year drew to a close I felt it necessary to write one last post. I read a few summaries of the year in sport that was 2016. The highlights were mentioned – this person won this, this team won that. If you are a real fan though a year in sport is more than the headlines. So here is my take.

I will start with my teams, the ones I dedicate my weekends to. The Waratahs had a tough year, but it was always going to be. We are in a building phase, with stars leaving and our glory delivering coach now shouldering the national burden we had nothing to lose and everything to learn. It was a disappointing year for all our Australian teams though, so we didn’t suffer alone.

The Wallabies are in a similar phase, much better than anyone gives them credit for. Consistency was our real issue, forced to field a different side week to week the fresh talent struggled to gain cohesion. I thought our Spring tour was an impressive outing, with Foley undoubtedly back in stellar form. A lot of our cohesion issues were resolved when we had someone owning that number 10 jersey. I believe a consistent team will lead to consistent performances.

The Swans. Oh the Swans! It was a tough day that ended our season but there is a lot to be proud of. I am still stunned by how consistently we have performed at the top of the competition. I was happy to let the Western Bulldogs end their drought (a headline I know), but next year we will be a force once again. They are a team that despite the result never really disappoint me. Their culture is something I still marvel at and reminds me of the power of sport.

When I reflect on this year, I recall moments of ecstasy, jumping with joy as goals sailed through and tries were scored. I recall sitting at the SCG, huddled and shaking. Partly because I was cold, partly because the game was so close it was messing with my nerves. I think about my personal black outs – shunning the internet and media of all kinds so the result of my recorded game is not ruined. Those mornings are unique – gloriously filled with anticipation and promise.

Every year has its ups and downs, the moments that make the headlines of our lives. Sometimes though, it is the little moments that make a year. When I watch sport the score line is a minor detail. I don’t watch sport, I inhabit it. I study the subtleties of each move, I try to enter the heads of the athletes and understand what it is that makes them so good, or why they are struggling. Sport is as much the study of people as it is the viewing of a game. The result may be the headline, but I want to know how they got there. Every step, every thought.

I did not write as much as I would have liked in 2016 but that is sport, we do what we can and we play what’s in front of us. So here is to 2017 – a brand new year in mint condition, unspoiled and unmarked by the complexities of life. The seasons start anew and anything can happen. In many ways it is my favourite time of year because fates are placed firmly in the hands of coaches and athletes alike and some, not many, but some, will do remarkable things.


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