More to win than final, even before actual final

“In all honesty, I don't care about the outcome of the game...”

Laura Langman, Sunshine Coast Lightning

Waaahhh???

Reading this, printed in Fairfax papers on Thursday, as part of a preview for the Super Netball grand final on Saturday, stunned.

It’s a grand final. 

Is this some Kiwi joke Aussies don’t get? 

A top-tier netballer, from a netball-mad country, daring to utter what would be deemed heinous to many sport-crazed.

Does she not know, after a lifetime of grit forged from toil, defeat and sacrifice, how hard it is to win? 

She should pull on a bib for my social outfit, the mighty Pink Flamingos.

We did not leave the court smiling for a year - I’m still learning rules, but I digress.  

If she was an AFL or NRL player, a Magpie or a Shark, surely she would be lynched outside her own grand final parade.

Ok, lynched might be strong, but how many professional sportspeople would say they don’t care if they win or lose?

But, of course, that was not all.  

“I care about the product that we put out there as a unit,” she continued, “and if it’s the best that we’ve got and it’s still not good enough on the day, you know what? That’s sport, and that’s what sport is all about.”

Nodding, I looked up from columns of ink.

While Langman’s musings need little explanation, they startle like a ball to the head.

“They are pumped,” she said of comrades, “they look great, and I can’t wait to see them put it out there.”

What she is expressing is pride, and a desire, for hard work, talent and character.

And, in the day-in, day-out, world of Saturday sport, under dreary grey clouds which work to stifle motivation, this can be hard to remember but, once said, hard to forget.

Chris O’Leary