Talking over the weekend with a couple of mates, firstly at a local fashion outlet (never thought I‘d say that in a column) and subsequently at a restaurant over a beers we were lamenting the youth of today. The typical prejudiced laden chatter of your typical 40 odd year old blokes wallowing in the mire of middle age. The centre of the conversation was the fact that Murwillumbah fielded more than there fair share of 40 year olds in their reserve grade league fixture versus Ballina last week. Not only that but one of their number (who is 51) scored a try to become surely the oldest player to score in NRLLL competition ever?). Also among the meat pies was an ageless prop who notched a brace in the Trojans rugby union win over Grafton. A myriad of other sports tell similar tales of aged exploits. Whilst we were to a man in gobsmacked awe of their exploits the inevitable questions arose as to why they were in these situations in the first place as there are hatfuls of sporting options for over 35’s to amuse themselves. Sure, some compete because by dint of genetic happenstance they can (and more importantly are allowed), but all of them? It seems not. Some have to play to ensure their team does and therefore avoid the sporting ignominy of forfeiture. This led, quite naturally to stereotypical ramblings trotted out regularly by Grumpy Old Men in their sermons: ‘the young are lazy, too many computer gadgets, Gen Y have no loyalty’ and of course the hackneyed ‘it wouldn’t have happened in our day’! That’s as may be but do we have the right to expect them to do as we did? Just because we trained apparently without question and come rain, hail or shine on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm does it mean they should too? I’m not suggesting the magic bullet is a swift return to sensible haircuts, an instant Twitter ban, black boots and jerseys made of a cotton/polyester mix rather than Teflon. Far from it. I’m suggesting us oldies, as temporary keepers of the sporting flame should view things not from our misty eyed perspective but from that of a young adult confronted by an unfettered and option filled life. The world has changed but has the sporting world changed similarly?
This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on April 13th