Why do sports matter?

I've always had an uneasy relationship with football - mainly due to being crap at it - but also because I distrust mass hysteria and certainty and you'll find both of those in spades among football fans.

I'm also wary of anything that's really, really popular - aside from food - and most men seem to really, really dig footy.

Any time of the year, there is some form of football being played somewhere on earth with fat guys cheering on the sidelines. A whole planetful of men kid themselves they're not just wasting time until they die with one football code or another.

Three billion blokes distract themselves from the uselessness, the utter passivity of their lives through football – because they back this team or that.

"Where you off to?"

"I'm going to the footy."

Of course you are.

However, I got older and fatter and soon had more space to fill in my life. Following the footy seemed like the "done thing", so I started to get excited about men who I'd never meet.

I also began to appreciate the finer points of the codes I watched and it gave me something to talk about with other dudes when my trusty pet topics of gender, geopolitics, ancient history and rooting stories would draw blanks at the pub.


I'm not sure exactly when but there came a time in my 30s when football went from being a distraction to actually mattering.

Not in a I'm-gonna-kill-my-wife-and-kids-then-myself-if-my-team-trades-such-and-such-a-player-away, but to the point at which I'd actually get butterflies in my stomach before a game and nauseous after particularly bad losses.

And there were plenty of those with my team - they have specialised at losing for most of my adult life. It's gotten so bad that I now record their games and wait to find out the score: if they win, I watch, if they don't, I wait for a few days until I can view it unemotionally.

This year, thankfully, there have been more than a few moments to celebrate, particularly when we beat our cross-town rivals, who also happen to be supported by most of my friends, enemies, neighbours, local store-keepers and the management of Channel Nine.

It looked like this - and that Monday night in July, without a doubt, was the Greatest Sports Fan Moment of My Life (and to put that in perspective, I was at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2003 - Bay 10, with a Pom - the day Steve Waugh scored THAT century).

So July 16, 2012, was a pretty special moment. I hugged a hairy, 55-year-old man I didn't know for 30 seconds in celebration.

45 minutes after the game had finished.

Earlier this year, ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote about the flip-side of this phenomenon, saying: "There's no feeling quite like watching your team blowing a big game. It's devastating. It's paralysing. It's the only feeling that a 6-year-old, a 42-year-old and a 64-year-old can share exactly.

"You never get over it. You never stop thinking about the three or four plays that could have swung the game. It becomes something of a sports tattoo. You live with it forever, and then you die."

And so it is with the good moments as well.

I know with a certainty approaching ahhh ... hysteria that that hairy 55-year-old man still feels exactly the same way about the win in July as I do.

And not to sound too much like the privileged white wanker that I am - if stuff like this matters to me, who has a good job, a daughter I love and dozens of the wonders opportunity can gift you - I can't even imagine what it means to people who have little.

I also know that all of us football fans - whatever code we follow - and who have teams playing this weekend, will feel exactly the same when they win or, get beaten.

Good luck and try not to spew.


Are you courageous enough to face your fears? Thanks to AMP's support, the Sir David Martin Foundation is offering you the opportunity to scale down 26 floors of the AMP Building in Circular Quay, Sydney, to raise money to help youth in need. Now in its third year, this year's award-winning event will be run over two days on October 19 and 20. There are only 60 spots available and already three-quarters of these have been snapped up – so register quickly to avoid missing out.

If you'd like to take the leap and officially become a participant in AMP Abseil for Youth, log on to register here. A $200 deposit is payable to secure your booking, and all participants are required to achieve a minimum sponsorship amount of $1500 before the October event. All of the funds raised will assist the Sir David Martin Foundation to turn young lives around.  The Sir David Martin Foundation supports young people who are struggling with addictions, homelessness, mental health issues, abuse, depression and self-harm. 

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.