Why We Love Sport (But Don’t Have To…)

I think I’ve figured it out. The mystery behind why we Australians, like sport so much. And it all comes down to this…

Bad news impacts us much more than good news.

Now, stick with me for a second.

Hans Rosling, author of Factfulness, talks about how humanity has instilled within it the Fear Instinct, which seeks out news or threats to our lives from things which we should be afraid of. Historically, these things have been impending disaster or tragedy. Things that we should fear, so that we stay alive.

So, as a result the news each day is filled with stories that cause fear and sadness because that resonates with our fear instinct. In the history of the world, we have never been better at finding the bad news anywhere in our world and immediately broadcasting it to everyone, than we are now. We are more informed today than at any other time about the bad things that happen, but statistically the world has never been less violent and more safe.

What does that have to do with sport?

By the time that Sport gets mentioned on the news on TV, or our news feed, or we scroll down the news webpage to the sport section, we are so desperate for something positive and to feel good about the world we latch onto sport. And when our team wins it pulls us out of our depressed pit we have been living in for 45 minutes and takes us to a place of euphoria (by comparison). We chase that feeling as it becomes the antidote to the horrors in our world.

This is not just an Australian phenomenon. It is global. We think we love our sport in Australia but have you ever been to a sporting event in another country – we are all as crazy as each other.

Really, it just comes down to us understanding and managing our emotions. The world is not all bad with the only shining light being sport. There are so many good things happening for us to feel positive outside of our favourite team having a good game/match/innings/set/season/pre-season/draft.

Plus, sport is a fools antidote, because eventually our team loses and we are back to being depressed, until next week when they are ‘sure to win again’. It’s a never ending cycle. If we can recognise that, yes, there are bad things in the world, injustices and tragedies, but we are in a much better position that we have been for decades, and we don’t need sport to cheer us up. Feel free to start here.

Duel

Is it possible that you don’t have to pick sides? I hope so.

Can I care about people living in poverty in other countries and also those living in poverty in Australia? Are they really mutually exclusive?

I know of a wealthy businessman and philanthropist who gives money to support single mothers with children suffering from a disability…and that’s it. That is his focus. People will talk to him about cancer and other health charities, kids charities and even couples with children suffering from a disability, but he wont give to them because it doesn’t fall in line with his generosity focus. It doesn’t mean he has no heart. In fact he cares very deeply for all these issues but his choice is made.

I have discovered that there is a difference between being selective with the organisations that I support and not caring. My absolute desire is to end poverty, with a specific focus on developing countries and that is what I put all my energy towards. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about finding a cure for cancer…and research suggests that you have more of an impact by giving greater amounts to a few charities rather than small amounts to many charities.

The true call of generosity is to open your heart to those that are hurting, suffering injustice, or are battling in the face of severe obstacles. To be able to sit in that space and connect with what their experience would be like. You don’t have to fix the situation, but just be willing to encounter it. Out of that experience, you may want to do something to help, or not, that’s okay, just ensure that you are giving back to something.

It is a risk to open yourself up to those who are in need, it can be painful, but if we can live our lives with that as a focus then generosity will be the outcome.

Mother’s Day is Complicated

Everyone had a mother. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, you had one. It’s kind of nice to know, that in an age of disruption, disconnection and division, every person on the planet was born of a woman. We all started out as helpless, fleshy blobs that were 100% reliant upon someone to care for us.

Not every mother is the same though. That’s quite an understatement. Each one has their own difficulties in life, past experiences which shape their present day expression, and insecurities. All this creates interesting environments for relationships to be formed. Some people have amazing relationships with their mother, some have great relationships, some good, some okay, some not so good, and some awful. That’s okay.

Some people lost their mother early, some later in life, some people have a ‘mum’ that’s not their mum. That’s okay too.

Whatever the case, whatever the status of relationship, we can categorically say that we have all had one, have one, miss one, need one and we take one day a year to celebrate that. Mother’s Day.

One universal theme that I come across for 99% of mothers is their desire to provide the best for their kids. Often, it is about providing a better life than they had experienced themselves. What a remarkable goal, outworked by thousands of acts of selflessness over years to give something so profound that most kids won’t understand or appreciate: opportunity.

I’ve seen it in the slums of Delhi. Mothers, who have never had the chance to go to school, standing proudly next to their young daughters in school uniform, glowing about how their girls love to learn.

I’ve seen it in the Philippines. Mothers living by a rubbish dump, doing everything possible to enable their small family to survive the day, somehow finding food to eat and keep a roof over their heads.

I see it in my wife. Navigating motherhood in a culture that highlights how amazing the lives of other mothers are, all the while running a small business and still coming to terms with some aspects of being a mum which don’t come naturally, but nailing mostly and sometimes not nailing it. I love that about her.

There is something to love about every mother, and probably a great many things to love about your mother. So, happy Mother’s Day to all the mums, mums wanting to be mums, kids of mums without a mum this year, and mums who have lost kids. One day isn’t really enough to capture all the meaning that is tied to this relationship, but it’s a nice way to spend a Sunday.

My Addiction

I am not the first person to be confronted by it and I won’t be the last, but it is still overwhelming. To discover that I have an addiction was quite a shock. There weren’t any tell-tale signs, or specific behaviour which would have given it away and it wasn’t until I sat thoughtfully and considered what motivated me in my decisions that I noticed it, staring me in the face.

I am addicted to feeling good. It might not sound like much but it is a sneaky little motivation that has robbed me of so much. It has kept me from being bold, trying new things, building strong relationships, having difficult but necessary conversations, and ultimately it has kept me from growing.

You see, as one of the motivating jets that can make my decisions on a sub-conscious level, feeling good has kept me inside my comfort zone, unchallenged and lacking integrity. Sure there are other things that can motivate our behaviour without us realising it, but for me feeling good is my kryptonite.

But, as with any addiction, the more you acknowledge it, talk about it and understand it, the less control it has. Over time, as I have noticed it playing out, I have been slowly replacing the urge to feel good with the desire to allow myself to feel uncomfortable. To sit the space of discomfort and realise that it won’t kill me, but in fact it could be the exact thing that I need to experience to get to where God is calling me to go.