It was, at the time, perhaps the most astute assessment of my personality that I’d ever heard. I was in high school – year 10? – and, as I did so often, I was shooting around with a mate while we simultaneously solved the problems of the world and our teenage places within it.
The context of the conversation had something to do with the fact that he was still trying to work out whether or not he was going to strive for the professional basketball career he’d dreamed of for a few years…and the fact that although I’d dreamed of a similar sporting career since well before my teenage years, it was fairly clear that I had reached the conclusion that the dream was not one I still maintained.
While I can’t remember if they were exactly the words he used, his comments were something along the lines of “Yeah, but you were never going to make it. You’ve always been way too interested in too many things to ever be able to commit enough energy to just one sport.”
Actually, in some ways, it wasn’t just an astute observation. After taking some initial offence to the statement – how could he had known such a thing and not mentioned it throughout my hours upon hours of training? – I came to the realisation that, in fact, it could actually be interpreted as being quite the compliment.
I was reminded of this when Mrs EPO interrupted me mid-conversation the other evening. I was in the midst of my latest glowing, fascinated spiel over the new book from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim and the University of Chicago’s Tobias Moskowitz, Scorecasting. My fascination with the book – which many of my readers who are known to me can be assured that they’d be equally fascinated by – had influenced many a conversation during the previous 24 hours, and up it came again. Quickly, Mrs EPO interjected: “Have you really always been this obsessed with sport? At the moment, it feels like you can hardly hold a conversation about anything else!”
“I’m no different at all,” was, of course, my answer. And, in fact, it’s true. I’m not reading more about it, nor watching more of it, nor speaking about it or preparing for the imminent annual AFL Fantasy Draft any more than usual (in fact, I’m in need of doing much more of the latter during the next couple of weeks if I’m to be nearly as prepared as my opponents).
But there is one thing that’s changed over the past year: I’ve been writing this blog.
This blog was born on the 22nd of February, 2010 – exactly one year and one day prior to me penning this, the 52nd column from EPO.
Writing here over the past year has been a buzz – dramatically more interesting than I ever expected it to be. To think that in this time, one of my pieces has been published online by Sports Illustrated, which represented the achievement of an idyllic teenage dream; I’ve had over 1,500 people from all corners of the globe read one of my pieces after Jon Wertheim himself thought it worthy of his readers’ interest; I’ve received an off-the-record reply from the CEO of an Australian sporting organisation; journalists have commented and one even appeared to write a published rebuttal of one of my pieces in one of Australia’s more reputable broadsheet newspapers without directly mentioning me at all; and all of that has happened even while the greatest joy has still been the reactions of friends and family who have laughed at, agreed with, argued with, or become interested in my stories.
But – and I’ll forever hate myself for putting this sentence in writing – Mrs EPO is right. Life has become slightly more one-dimensional, for just as I haven’t read or watched more sport recently, nor have I read or watched less since taking on the added responsibility of being EPO. When I consider my time spent thinking of future topics, doing my (admittedly often fairly brief) research and writing my columns, suddenly some other activities and interests lose their chance to be on the weekly menu.
My mother would argue, I suspect, that the solution to this is easy: I should continue to enjoy writing, however should spread myself over a wider range of subjects. She might be right, too, however it’s funny how unqualified I feel for such a job. Sure, as one grows older, one realises that many of those writing on the key issues in the media don’t always know especially much about the day’s chosen topic. However, this still doesn’t mean that one feels as if one should become another slightly ill-informed commentator on the massive variety of topics about which one really doesn’t know much at all.
And so, for the moment at least, this is it. In the time it would have taken me to write next month’s blog posts, I will instead return my attention to the second series of The Wire (I know, I know, I’m very late); attack a second book from the new author I discovered over the summer in Malcolm Gladwell; be a more consistent reader of Annabel Crabb’s political commentary; visit a Victorian site or two that I haven’t reached yet; and finally check out some of those documentaries I have recorded but never actually watched. All the while, of course, I will also continue to read and watch a shitload of sport.
May life ever be so.