Sports Appreciation and Fandom

Cadel Evans in the final time trial of 2011 Tour De France

Cadel Evans in the final time trial of 2011 Tour De France

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.”

Am I a sports fan? No, I don’t think I am. I appreciate sport, in fact I just saw Ashton Agar score his 50th run on debut for Australia in the First Test at Trent Bridge between writing the previous paragraph and this one.

To me “fandom” implies an obsession I don’t have. My father was a cricket fan, he watched it whenever he could. Indeed our family got it’s first TV for him to watch the first cricket broadcasts and we got a colour set in time for him to watch the first Ashes series broadcast from England in colour. Not only did he know the entire Australian team well he also had a good handle on all the state players. He was a fan. He was obsessive.

By contrast I’m just an appreciator of sport. I enjoy watching good cricket, I can watch the Sydney Swans play Australian Rules, the Patriots play US football and I even like watching a mountain stage of the Tour De France.

While not an expert I know enough about each of those sports to be an informed viewer and to appreciate good play.

As I write this Ashton Agar has just become the highest scoring number 11 in Australian history and finished the over at 67 runs. His stroke play has been brilliant and the English bowlers are playing right into his strengths. He and Phil Hughes have been together for 97 of Australia’s 215 runs. After a terrible start to our innings Australia has now equalled the English first innings score.

I love the physicality and skill in watching a good sports match. I love the speed of an Australian Rules game and at the same time the slow shifting of power and tension in the several days of a cricket match. I’ve been glued to the television watching the cyclists of the Tour De France.

I still remember the night I watched the two Schleck brothers try and break Cadel Evans. At the bottom of the climb there was a group that contained almost everyone who at the beginning of the day might win the Tour except the yellow jersey. Contador was in yellow and had been dropped on a previous climb and was now so far back he was out of the race. The Frank and Andy Schleck and Evans were now the top three contenders and whoever took this stage would take the leader’s yellow jersey.

Sorry about that delay Agar and Hughes had me gripped for the last few overs before lunch. The smile on Ashton Agar’s face as he walked off the pitch for lunch. A very happy 19 year old cricketer.

To lose Contador both the Schleck’s and Evans had worked their teams so hard they were now aalone at the bottom of that final climb. So almost from the start one of the Schleck’s would surge and Cadel would answer then moments later the other brother would push until half way up Andy broke away and started to gain a real lead just after Frank had dropped back from the lead group.

Evans was on the front of the chase almost begging for help to chase down Andy. You could see him talking to the other riders, waving them through to take a turn on the front and shaking his head when nobody would help. The gap to Schleck was getting longer and longer until Cadel went on the chase on his own and the gap started dropping fast. Would Evans reel in Schleck before the top of the mountain and the end of the stage?

Evans didn’t manage to catch Schleck but he did get the gap down to 57 seconds and that was the margin between them on the second last day of the Tour, an individual time trial. Cadel was a much better time trialler than Andy but would he be 58 seconds or more quicker? At the end of that time trial he was a minute and 34 seconds ahead of Schleck and winner of the 2011 Tour De France.

That’s what I love about sport. There is a focus, a passion and an intensity in top level sport that is marvellous to watch. In sport you see people who are dedicating everything they are and every effort they can put in to that second.

7 thoughts on “Sports Appreciation and Fandom

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