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Eric Rush, a NZ rugby player as the sport transitioned from amateur to pro. Asked if pro rugby changed his life, he replied, "No it changed my WIFE> She went from 'Hey you've got to stop kicking that ball around and get a real job and grow up' to 'Hey you haven't been for a run for two days. Get out there and get fit bc we have to get a house out of this before you finish.'"


When I was seven years old my karate dojo enrolled in a large tournament in a city about an hour away. There were about 200 kids there. The problem for me was that I was only a white belt and I was very large for my age. As such, the tournament directors and my coaches decided to place me up a couple of brackets with other kids my size. The issue for me was that all of my opponents were considerably older, more coordinated, higher rank and more experienced then I was.

I got pulverized all weekend. I didn't win a single match. My very last match on Sunday was against a guy who I don't think had lost all weekend. I'm not sure why they matched us against each other. I think they just had everybody in each bracket fight everybody else and then gave the guy with the best record the trophy. It didn't really make any sense.

Our match started. Just like every other match, he would come bum-rushing into me and hit me. The match was almost over and I don't think I had any points. I decided to go for a wild high roundhouse kick. I envisioned a flashy, glorious Jean-Claude Van Damme-esque high roundhouse kick to nail my opponent and score some points! All that came out, instead, was a really low, half-assed front kick. This kick looked like the type of kick an uncoordinated first year soccer player would use to try to kick a soccer ball. My kick hit my opponent squarely in the nuts. He let out an overly loud "hee-yaa!" and went down to one knee. I could see the veins in his neck bulging, until about 10 seconds later when he collapsed completely onto the mat. His coaches came out to help him. My coaches came out and told me to hang in there and make sure my strikes were above the belt. After the full five minutes my opponent came back out onto the mat, I was penalized a point (but didn't have any points to begin with so I'm not sure how they scored that) and the match resumed.

I still had the vision of Street Fighter 2 style glorious finishing moves in my head. My opponent again came flying into me with a barrage of kicks and punches that I couldn't hope to defend. I decided to go for an uppercut. I'm not sure why I decided to try this. An uppercut isn't really a Tae-Kwon-Do move and we hadn't learned how to throw uppercuts at all up to that point. I leaned way back and then came forward with the lamest, most stilted uppercut in the history of organized combat sports. My opponent was closer that I thought he would be so my uppercut hit him right in the nuts at the bottom of the execution, before it even got up to the appropriate height. My opponent collapsed for a second time and there was no getting up this time.

I remember the entire dojo was silent. I looked out into the audience, to my coaches, to my opponent's coaches, to my parents etc. Everybody in the building was looking at me with the same strange look on their faces. The looks were a combination of confusion and "somebody just farted and it smells horrible." For some reason everybody's head was tilted about 30 degrees to the side while they had this look. I will never forget the look.

After what seemed like 60 seconds of dead silence with my opponent writhing on the mat, my coaches came out, got me, showed me back to the bench and didn't say a word. My opponent's coaches came out and got him. Nobody said a word. After a couple of minutes another match started as if our match had never happened.

At the end of the tournament my opponent was awarded first place and got a humungous trophy. My name was called very last and I got one of those crappy little attendance trophies. Nobody said a word when they handed it to me.


One of earliest recorded football pranks: On the night before the Yellow Jackets were set to arrive in Auburn for an 1896 game (yes, 1896), Auburn students greased the train tracks leading in and out of the local station. When Georgia Tech's train came into town, it skidded through town and didn't stop for five more miles. The GT football team had to make the trek back to town, then went on to lose, 45-0.

In US skiers spend roughly the same amount, about $250 million, on medical repairs (largely $10,000 knee ligament reconstructions) as they do on new equipment.

Rock paper scissors. Two art auction houses famously used it to settle a dispute over the right to auction some paintings. Sotherby's spent a lot of money hiring a group of analysts to come up with a winning strategy. Their verdict was that it's a random choice so didn't matter which you picked. Christie's just asked an 11yo girl what to do. She said "Everyone thinks you'll go with rock first, so they choose paper. So you should choose scissors to start." Christie's won.

More Anecdotes about Sport


Some rate cricket highly, if just because it's the only sport which stops for meals twice a day (and is also regarded as one of the few sports in which participants can actually gain weight while taking part.

More quotes about Sport


Religion you choose is not much different to supporting the sports team you grew up, no matter where you move or what happens to the team. An accident of the geography of your birth and your childhood loyalties affect your decision making more than any rational or logical thought. 50 Popular Beliefs

Book Extracts about Sport

Think About It

Why do cities spend megabucks hosting Olympic Games - they never break even, even when allow for tourist spending. So why not just run it as a glorified school sports day - get thing over and done with in a day. Or if can't do that, why not have one central venue that everybody goes to every 4 years.

Quite a few NZ professional sportsmen are Christians. Often they wear a wristband with a cross on it. When they score a try they kiss the cross and raise their eyes to the heavens in gratitude. But you never see a player make a mistake or do something foolish, and look at the sky in puzzlement or anger.

Fans need to be part of a crowd. A small, scattered stadium audience is pathetic. Only when crammed together can they lose their identity in a joyously anarchic mob. Even shrinking violets like an English crowd will happily belt out "There's only one Wayne Rooney" (to the tune of Guantanamera) "there's only one Wayne Rooney". Which is precisely the sentiment we sang about in school assembly. Only we were extolling God.

At first the comparison between WR and God seems apt, in that both are male and famously short-tempered. But crucially, there s only one WR, whereas there are thousands of gods.

Talent in sport over-rated. It only matures within a personality that is capable of self-improvement. And ironically, talent usually protects the athlete from realizing this. They didn't need resilience when they were learning, because it all came easy, and so lacked the capacity to develop it when the game got tougher. Failure has a silver lining. It builds up resilience - because you've seen the wheels come off before, you know you can put them back on again.

Talent, or 10,000 Hours Practice?

Expect The Unexpected