Friday, September 16, 2011

Lessons I have learnt from football, with random photos

4 years ago, I had never been to a football match (or, for that matter, any sporting match).

Although my Dad follows the AFL, his team isn't a Western Australian one, and football was something that was on the TV rather than something we went to.

And then I met Mr Bite.


Whilst he doesn't usually attend AFL games, he does support one of the local WAFL teams. And by support, I mean that he goes to every game his team, Claremont, plays during the football season.

When we started going out, I started going along. I had no clue about the football. I didn't know the players or the rules, and when we kicked the ball at half-time (one of the features of WAFL games, along with sitting on grassy banks rather than hard chairs), I was anxious about embarrassing myself irredeemably in front of him or his brother.

No one wants to be looked at like this.

Over time, though, I started to enjoy the game in its own right. I started to learn the rules (sort of). I now know quite a few of the players. I care about whether or not Claremont wins. I am capable of getting quite caught up in the adrenalin that a close game brings.

I have also discovered that having 2 - 3 hours of "nothing" time is incredibly freeing. Because 4 years ago, I wouldn't have sat at a football match for 2 hours either, or if I did, I'd have been worrying about all the other things I could and 'should' be doing instead (I was doing my PhD at that time).

Never doing nothing can make your head spin. See?

Last year, Claremont made it into the WAFL grand final. We attended, of course, even though it meant we had to sit on AFL quality plastic chairs.

The supporters of the opposition riled me in a way I would never have thought possible. I wanted to kick the chair of the woman in front of me, who seemed to take great delight in swearing at our players, and the umpire, and any one else who didn't please her.

When we lost by 1 point, I was disappointed. And in the final minutes of the game, my heart was beating faster than it does on some of my runs.

It seems that in grand finals, my sympathetic nervous system likes to do this.

This year, my attendance at games has slackened a little. Living in the same house as Mr Bite means that I get to see him every day, and football has thus lost one of its drawcards. But I do still go most weeks, and I do still enjoy it.

We're in the grand final again this year, playing in just over a week. This year, however, I won't be going. One of my closest university friends is pregnant with her first child, and her baby shower is on the same afternoon. Whilst I don't fully grasp the concept of a baby shower (surely one should wait for the baby before celebrating it properly?), I will, of course, be attending that and not the football.

The point of this ramble? Well, the twinge of disappointment I feel at not being able to go to the final game, and the contrast with my lack of interest 4 years ago, has made me realise that I've learnt quite a lot from my attendance at sporting matches.


Lessons I have learnt from football

1. If you are prepared to sit in the cold and/or rain for 2 hours, to watch a game you don't fully understand, you probably like the person you are sitting with rather a lot.

2. Doing "nothing" for 2 hours is sometimes the most productive thing you can do.

3. There is fun to be had in sport (I know this is not news for most people!).

4. Even if you're hopeless at sport, you can still take part. And if you're lucky, the people you are playing with will pretend that you're not as bad as you are.

If they don't, you should probably play with someone else.

5. Supporting a team means that you support them whether they win or lose. This applies to individual people too.

6. Never kick the chair of someone who swears at umpires. Or swears loudly in public. Or who you don't know. Never kick the chair of anyone.

7. Friends come before football.

8. Even though friends come before football, it's ok to wish, just a little, that their baby showers fell on different days to grand finals.

Do you follow any sports, or attend any games? 

Or can you explain the concept of a baby shower to me?!


  1. on the baby shower, uh, no. Except that "it takes a village" and this way the village starts providing the parents-to-be with baby goods. :D

    on sports, I LOVE tennis like I can't even tell you. I will stay on cardio machines at the gym with a TV broadcasting a match... for its duration---which can mean 3+ hours. I just get a titch dehydrated. ;) Nothing thrills me like tennis, and I would go anywhere in any weather to watch it. I was totally cheering for Stosur at the US Open, too: go Oz!

    PS: this was a really, really funny post. :D

  2. On sports, I completely agree with your lessons. My partner doesn't watch sport, and I've discovered I actually miss it. I need to go visit Dad and watch the footy sometimes.

    On baby showers, I've been to a lot. A LOT. At one stage last year I went to one every second weekend for 3 months. Now I go to a lot of first birthday parties.

    My theory about baby showers is that they are most important for the first baby. Part of it is the opportunity to give presents and be excited, but mostly it is an opportunity to gather around a woman who is probably simultaneously excited and terrified and let her know that she is surrounded with people who will help and support her. It is about the sharing of love. But whatever it is, they are always exciting and happy things to attend.

  3. Oh gosh, I am so *not* a sports person! I think it's because I simply can't get into the competitiveness of it. I know that the other team wants to win just as much, so it feel bad to get all gung-ho for some of the players and not others! :P So I like "pretty" sports to watch - gymnastics, diving, the horse ones at the Olympics. And the occasional dip into cricket or tennis...

  4. SUCH a cute post! :D You're so creative. I love to watch football, especially my OSU Buckeyes because it's such a social+family event! Everyone in my area is die hard buckeye fan so it's a lot of fun :)

  5. @Stephanie @
    Thank you :)

    There have been lots of sleepy Australians recently, thanks to the tennis (it's generally on in the middle of the night here). I am rather impressed with your marathon gym watching!

  6. @Lisa
    I guess the first birthday parties are waiting for me next year! That does make a lot of sense, about it being most important for the first baby. It also explains why I haven't encountered many of them before's only now my friends are starting to have babies.

  7. @Hannah
    This really made me part because I'm not sure why I don't feel the same way, given my over-sensitive streak. I guess my competitive streak comes out and wins in these scenarios :D I do like gymnastics best though, and am already looking forward to the 2012 Olympics!

  8. @spinachandspice
    Thank you :) I think that's the fun about sports that I'm only just discovering - the family and social side. Your games sound like they would be great!

  9. I love all your lessons you've learnt :-) Not being a particularly sporty...errr, not at all...person I find it tricky to get excited. Except for world cup soccer, and then you'll find me getting up at 3am to watch a game. Crazy.

    Babyshowers never appealed to me. A Blessingway however, beautiful. (Nurturing the mother and celebrating her journey into motherhood.)

  10. Football - means AFL - a game I followed once but mostly grand finals these days - I did once attend a soccer match in turkey not knowing a thing about the game and it was great fun - live sport is so different to tv

    Baby showers - an outdated concept that once supported new brides with little titbits and now has been embraced by commercialism (sorry for the cynicism - not really my sort of thing)

  11. @cityhippyfarmgirl
    A Blessingway sounds so much nicer. What a lovely concept...and no commercialism involved :P

  12. @Johanna GGG
    You're spot on with the difference between live and TV. I think that's why I never fully got sports until so recently...the live experience is much more than sport.

    I'm with you on the baby showers, don't worry! I want to celebrate the pregnancy / baby but this seems an odd way of doing it.

  13. You sound so much like me Kari! I was never into football either, until I met my man. It took awhile to get into it and learn (some of) the rules. Now I go along to quite a few AFL matches and really enjoy it! I love the camaraderie and excitement, and even love getting all rugged up to sit out in the chilly weather. :-)

    ps. Thank you for your lovely and supportive comment on my blog, too :-)

  14. @Brooke
    You are most welcome :) And I'm glad I'm not the only one to get into sports late!


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