MY pushbike is taking a thrashing.
Ever since that creepy invisible virus sneaked into our world, life as we knew it has taken a serious dive. Our survival depends on putting distance between ourselves and others, and safety is everyone’s priority, but it’s painful when we can’t enjoy the freedom we’ve always taken for granted.
My way of dealing with the frustration is to drag my rusty old bike out of the shed and thrash it along the roads around my home. The breeze against my face makes me feel alive and in control – even if the reality is that I’m as broken-down as my rusted treadly. My other daily ritual is walking the dog, although my mutt is a beagle, which means he follows his nose and he drags me through the blasted bushes.
Whatever pastime floats your boat (sorry, is boating still banned?), there are plenty of ways to try to overcome the isolation and sense of desperation that the pandemic has thrust upon us. Keeping active and positive is crucial to how we cope.
Right now, sport is more important to us than it has been at any time in our lives.
I’m not talking about high-level sport – the professional stuff is all about money and anxious administrators concocting their desperate measures to pay the bills with live matches on television. Sport is not merely what we see on TV.
Sport at its most basic is a kid with a ball, or a person who enjoys a game, or doing an activity that gets the juices flowing. Whether you’re young or old, the need to play games is in all of us. Playing sport fulfils fundamental psychological needs, such as feeling you can make choices, or believing that you are effective and capable of overcoming problems. At the very least, playing sports relieves boredom and nourishes our mental and physical well-being.
With organised sport suspended or cancelled, it seems that board games and video games are the safest outlets for those who want to connect through friendly competition.
We’ve done more jigsaws in the past month than in our entire lives before this, but getting active outdoors is so important for our sanity and our health. That applies especially for children, who can learn positive habits and develop skills that carry through their lifetime.
You can still take a brisk walk, or go for a jog, or get around on a scooter, skateboard or bike. Or play ball, throw a frisbee, play kick-to-kick footy, or any activity that helps you to feel, live and sleep better.
Unfortunately, grassroots sport around the country has become a serious casualty of the financial disaster caused by the virus. Consequently, the enthusiasm of community sports administrators will be seriously tested when it comes to starting over.
How will widespread unemployment affect local clubs and their players’ capacity to pay subscriptions?
How will clubs or groups that are cash-strapped and disadvantaged get started again and provide the necessary equipment?
Will kids return to outdoors sport after a gap season in which they’ve developed an even-greater bond with their PlayStations and iPhones?
With winter settling in and the days getting shorter and colder, will players lose their enthusiasm? More than ever, we need to be imaginative about how we engage in sport and games, whilst observing the measures that are necessary to contain coronavirus.
Sport is what we make of it. And, in this time of a pandemic, we need to get off our backsides.
Whether we are old or young, healthy or debilitated, everyone can get out and appreciate what our lucky country has to offer. Just open your door.
What activity will it be today? Thrashing the old push-bike along the local roads, or chasing the beagle hound through those blasted bushes?