For the love of sport

By Meg Saultry

Sport can be a serious thing.

We can dissect and critique and analyse a game within an inch of its life, and the oversaturation of sport in today’s media can sometimes be a little too much to handle.

But at its core, the reason we become so invested in these games is because we love them.

We show it this passionate love, and with passion comes the best and worst of a person.

Booing at umpiring decisions or getting angry with an individual’s performance, these are the uglier reactions to the sports we love.

But the main reason we as Australians love our sports is not that it gives us something to complain about — though Twitter would love to argue this — it’s because we build our communities around it.

And it’s in our local sporting scenes, like that of Benalla, where this love of sports can first be fostered.

I spent part of my childhood growing up in neighbouring Shepparton and this town was where my love of sport first came from.

I spent my Saturday afternoons with my family at Deakin Reserve and Princess Park, watching the Demons or the Swans play in the GV league.

I spent my weeknights at the recreation centre fighting it out in the table tennis competition or my Saturday morning’s playing for my local tennis team.

But it was also the backyard cricket games on Christmas Day or kick-to-kick down at the oval that fuelled the flames of competition.

And don’t forget the little memories that we can associate with our sport of choice.

For me it’s the smell of a canteen or rushing out to the half-time huddle at the football that means I feel at home any time I step onto a football ground.

Since I’ve started at The Ensign, I’ve heard about so many sports in and around Benalla, from soccer to rugby to hockey and so much more that continue to be embraced by locals every day.

I’ve been told of the local taekwondo and gliding scenes, and with the Winton raceway’s historics and V8s coming up in the next few weekends, I’m excited to get my first taste of car racing.

This goes to the essence of why I ultimately love sports — that people can be so dedicated and passionate about their sport of choice, whatever it may be, that they build and surround themselves with the community that is created from it.

In the weeks and months ahead, this column will look at all types of sports at the local level, and whatever I end up writing about, while there may be a level of critique, I’ll always endeavour to keep this love of the game at the heart of it.