Roll With It
So I’m on paternity leave at the moment, which mostly involves hanging out in the local park with my toddler, while my wife introduces our sleepy newborn to the world at large.
Joe, my 16-month-old, is a single-minded fellow whose interests revolve around a large orange ball. I kick it along the grass, he totters after it, gives it an affectionate squeeze and hands it back with a grin. This sequence is stuck on a loop. We do it over and over again. Occasionally, a dog tries to hijack the party, but then we quickly resume. Joe bloody loves that ball.
Ask yourself this: how many hours of your childhood, of your life, have you spent chasing after balls of various shapes and sizes? Maybe it was hitting a tennis ball against a wall or playing a two-man Test series in a suburban backyard. Perhaps you practised shooting hoops at a ring set above a garage door. Or played 20-a-side games of touch footy with the neighbourhood kids. I suspect you’ve spent aeons of time, vast hunks of your precious life, running after balls. And if that’s not enough, you’ve then squandered even more hours watching others do the same on TV (albeit with slightly more skill and panache). Think of those balls like dots, join them up and you’ve got the broad sweep of the average boy’s life in Australia.
I mention this because sport has copped a bad rap of late. The cricket team utterly disgraced itself. A leading rugby player keeps making unnecessary homophobic remarks. Disgusted by the indiscretions of players and the tribalism of fans, corporate sponsors are starting to pull out of deals prematurely. At the time of writing, sport is languishing in the sin bin.
Against this collective hand-wringing, Men’s Health wanted to provide some perspective. We don’t want to gloss over the bad stuff. But we also don’t want to overshadow the fact that we believe that sport is more often a life-affirming force. It forges mateship, teamwork and community. It provides a welcome distraction from the trials of life. It gives you something to debate in the pub over a beer.
That’s why on page 84 we asked a bunch of writers to honour their personal sporting champion and share their most precious memories. From Adam Gilchrist to Roger Federer, we wanted to hear about their heroes and those moments of sporting folklore that lifted their souls.
As for me, I’m heading back to the park with Joe. That ball won’t chase itself.
“We believe sport is more often a lifeaffirming force. It provides a welcome distraction from the trials of life”