Laurie Axtens - Call of the Loon
The seasonal blues
There is a time in any season, sporting or otherwise, when the players enthusiasm starts to wane. The dreams of a quick victory and an easy ascension to the title coagulate into the grinding mud of the long slog. The squad becomes jaded and recruiting becomes harder and harder as the players themselves do what they can to avoid joining the fray. They turn up late with their girlfriends or boyfriends, all their friends get married around the same time, and other family commitments keep coming up. Why, some of the squad would rather spend eight months in jail than rejoin the carnage.
Coaches and captains need to be ever on guard against this seasonal collapse of morale and develop techniques to fight off the misery of certain and regular defeat. New uniforms and equipment, fun training games or just a simple swapping of the deck chairs on the Titanic.
This last option is popular but dangerous. Try offering backs a chance to become strikers, centre fielders a turn on the mound or (and Im only speculating) even give the morgue workers a break and let the engineers bag up the bodies and send them home.
And here lies the problem; each role requires special skills and an aptitude for the specific job. Its a rare defender that keeps his head in front of goal, a unique outfielder that can cope with the pressure of pitching and a very caring engineer that worries which name tag belongs to which body. With so many bodies to choose from, it must be easy to send the wrong bloke home in a bag.
But I digress. I cant help it, Im jaded. I know this article is supposed to be about sport but Im a beaten man and I cant bear to write about the banality of the Bulldogs beating the Warriors while our countrymen go on blithely imprisoning innocent children without trial for years on end. When our countrymen and women support a war on terror which has increased the incidence of terrorism four fold in two years. Sure, Im glad that the Brumbies have a secure a spot in the top four of the Super 14 and that Johnathan Thurston has earned a spot on the Kangaroos bench, but it doesnt seem to matter if were sinking into a septic era of horror. Id love to end this on a positive note by offering you a glimmer of a speckle of a tiny fragment of hope. Im sure its out there... try www.getup.org.au.