Meeting your sports heroes is a dangerous game
As sports fans we’ve all been there. You’re lining up at your local newsagent/nightclub/prostate-exam clinic, when suddenly in walks Mr Big Shot Sports Celebrity.
All of a sudden your life becomes like one of those Choose your own Adventure Books that you used to read in school library class when all the Where’s Wally books were taken.
In this circumstance you can:
A: Play it cool, give them the big-bloke nod and try to hide your copy of Biker Babes under your camouflage newspaper.
B: Strike up an intelligent conversation with an insightful Ray Martin line of questioning featuring such probing gems as “Hey aren’t you…?”, and “Gonna win this weekend?”
C: Turn into a quivering 14-year-old groupie incapable of logical thought or speech, desperately trying to get them to pose for a photo on your Nokia 7210 as they peruse the Lifesavers selection, before tweetbooking the picture to everyone you’ve ever met.
Unfortunately, unlike in Mrs Kellow’s class, you just can’t flick ten pages into the future to see what the appropriate course of action is, so you’re never really sure if your superstar is going to:
A: Give you a slightly bewildered “G’day” and continue on his way.
B: Shout you a Caramello Koala before handing over his personal number so you can catch up some time to read old copies of Big League together.
C: Look at you like you’ve just asked to massage vegetable oil into his buttocks before ‘gently’ brushing past you, leaving shocked staff members to pick you up from underneath the postcard display stand.
The trouble in a situation such as this is that it really is a lottery as to what interaction, if any, you’re going to get.
It is safe to say though that as a general rule the experience of meeting professional athletes tends to go downhill as you age. Sort of like everything else actually.
This is firstly because most athletes are relatively young themselves, and also that as you age you tend to go from meeting them at club fan days, to at the kebab shop outside The Snake Hole Nightclub and Lounge Bar after a night on the ran-tan.
Having worked in the vicinity of professional athletes for about three seconds, I’m of the belief that mingling with the big boys, who by the way are never AS big as you think they’ll be (Dave Taylor’s head excluded), is not that much fun for the average punter.
As sports consumers we’re led to believe that there are some pro athletes out there who spend their downtime helping old ladies across the street and volunteering at the cat welfare society, while others are only a dropkick away from having their own nudity-heavy TV mini-series made in their honour.
This is of course a fallacy, and most of us have a story about the nice guy cleanskin your mates saw being man-handled by Casino security at 3:30am on a Sunday morning, or the dirt-bag ‘enforcer’ type who cheerily helped your Aunty Jenny find the petrol cap on her hire car one night.
While this process should be humanising, it actually throws your universe into disarray, for what is sport without good guys and bad guys?
Even worse is when a player who you enjoy constructing mocking witticisms about for his poor form turns out to be a really top bloke, with a wife, family and an overweight Labrador just doing his best to make a living.
So I say leave the stars alone, not for any sooky privacy reasons, but because by striking up a conversation you could inadvertently be ruining your subliminally constructed sports solar system.
And if Andre Agassi is reading this, my mate Sam is still sorry about the whole meatball sub thing from a couple of years back at Robina. Truly sorry.
In saying that though… anyone got any interesting sports star encounters they’d like to share? Promise I won’t tell anyone.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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