In June, 1994, I faced a big problem. I was in Australia for the first time, on tour with the Integrity Music team. I began to channel flip, hoping to find some sports to watch. I did find some sports, but it wasn't anything with which I was familiar. They had cricket, football (what we call soccer) and Australian football, which is a brutal combination of elements from rugby and American football. So I thought to myself, "John, you've got two choices here. You can either switch off the tv and not watch sports other than those offered in the U.S., or you an expand your repertoire of sporting choices." I chose the latter and watched cricket.
Now ten years later, I can watch a cricket match and understand most of what's going on. What's more, I've gone on to watch badminton in Indonesia (they are often the world champs), rugby in South Africa (I watched the world cup in Singapore year before last), road racing in England and lots of soccer wherever I am. My family and I were in the UK in 2002 when England played Brazil in the World Cup of soccer and it was quite an experience. Then we went on to Austria and watched Germany lose to Brazil in the finals. To say that the fans were rabid would be a massive understatement.
The most unusual "sports" I've watched were a tiddly winks tournament and sheep dog competition, both in the UK. The sheep dog owners would put their dogs through their paces on a preset course, be timed and then evaluated on how well their dog obeyed and responded. Pretty strange.
Most would not consider professional wrestling a sport, but I do, and I see it all over the world. I think pro wrestling is bizarre, but brilliantly planned and executed. Everyone knows it's fixed, yet millions watch. Why? My wife says because it's like a male soap opera. Maybe she's right.
Before we end this session, I have to confess that I have a favorite team in the British football league. At the risk of alienating my UK and African friends, I am a Manchester United fan. I have to admit, though, that I love watching Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool any time they are on the air. The quality of play is just exceptional.
I'm glad I made the decision to expand my sporting interests, because it has helped me connect with audiences wherever I go. And my interest in wrestling has opened many doors to the younger male audience members, who think I'm cool because I know who Triple H and Randy "Macho Man" Savage are. So what about you? Are you expanding your boundaries, being exposed to and learning new things? I hope so, for if you want to live an interesting life, write or speak about interesting things, then you must do interesting things. So, cricket anyone?