Before giving a run-down of some of the stories we have for you in this issue of Sportsocratic I want to mention a couple of things I have been thinking about… things that very rarely get mentioned in the pages of sports magazines and web sites. Perhaps these are things that might be worth exploring in upcoming issues.
Last week I heard a bloke on ABC Radio National talk about his experience in walking the Santiago-Camino Pilgrimage. My initial reaction was, “yeah… well I know the Camino is kind of trendy, but the idea of walking from church to church for ages doesn’t sound much like an adventure to me.” When the guy explained that he started the trek with almost no expectations but discovered, over time, that the isolated walk was having a profound effect on him both mentally and spiritually, I started to pay attention. He explained that the constant physical exertion combined with the isolation caused walls that existed in his mind to slowly crumble away and that he was left with a much purer picture of the things that actually mattered in the world. I don’t want to spend too much time here talking specifically about the Camino but this guy’s story made me realize how little we highlight the spiritual aspects of a physical activity, sport or adventure. As this bloke shows us, spirituality can and possibly should be a key element to the sports we play and we are missing out big time if we don’t recognize this and allow sport to be part of our spiritual lives.
Stories about a great athlete’s outstanding achievements are common in the popular press. There are also plenty of stories about ordinary athletes who make good through great effort and commitment. These stories lift up our hearts and inspire us. But what about the heartbreaking disappointments? What about the inglorious losses and failures? Surely the stuff ups, disappointments and failures caused by a huge array of sporting circumstances (including, but not limited to bad luck, poor judgement, sporting politics, lack of skills, physical limitations, inadequate coaching or preparation, chicanery and tactical errors) not only potentially make great stories but also offer critical life lessons to all of us. One of the world’s silliest but wisest writers, Tom Robbins, recommends the embracing of failure and reminds us that a glorious failure is much less insufferable than a mediocre triumph! I am with Tom. I will be looking around for some content about really great failures.
In this issue Chris Waterman introduces us to the mighty Sunwolves… Japan’s first club team to compete in a major international competition. With his praise and realistic assessment of the Sunwolves’ early efforts he reminds us that sport is not all about the technical aspects of what happens on the field. Sport is also about people, life and culture. The Sunwolves are not only important for their technical contribution to world rugby but also for the cultural and human elements they bring. May the Sunwolves thrive!
John Campbell is a sparkling diamond in the world of Australian sports writers. He may not be terribly well known in the Tim Gilbert, Craig Foster, Bruce McAvaney and Roy Masters set but he shines brightly in their presence. Here John places his own sporting “bigotry” under the spotlight and tries to explain why so many of us sports lovers love to hate.
I went for a snorkel at Byron Bay’s extraordinary Julian Rocks last week and put together a review. If you are up for a thrilling and eye-opening adventure and you are visiting “The Bay” Julian Rocks is not to be missed.
A year of sporting history that few Australians know much about is 1966. Summer in Australia is not just about cricket. For over a century now Australians have been more likely to pull on the boardies and bikini than don the white flannels. In this issue we look at the summer of 1966 and show what a weird upsy-downsy year it was for beach-based sports.
We also look at the coaching philosophy of two of Australia’s most exciting and up and coming coaches… the Walker brothers… and reveal that while the Walkers are certainly two of our most innovative sports mentors much of their philosophy is based on “old-school” values that still work!
Our “The things that made me” column also looks at a young up and coming coach. Belinda Wilson not only coaches the Brisbane Roar W-League team but has a world of international and national technical experience. Find out about some of the things that have impacted her in life.
Professor Martin Gibala has been preaching about the value of interval training as an effective means of achieving fitness for some time. In this issue we describe his latest research that challenges conventional thinking about how fitness can be achieved. I am certainly trying to introduce some interval aspects into the long-slow swimming training that I am doing. His research seems compelling!