An investigation into the impacts sports culture has on a global scale.

Sports have always been an integral part of many cultures. It gives individuals and minorities a sense of belonging and presents itself as the best opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to unite. With the Internet and television, now more than ever we are more exposed to sport nationally and internationally.

Society not only plays sport, we now participate in them virtually, and involve ourselves through being spectators or hard-core fans. Sport attracts tourism, and has the capacity to influence our understanding of gender, socio-economic issues and build the identity of a city and nation (LSU, 2016).

This essay will examine and investigate how sports and sports culture impact societies around the world. It will further explain the unity sport provides on a local, national and international level.

Commonly, sport is defined as an “organised, a competitive and skilful physical activity”. Sport has become a global force, a common language that anyone in the world can understand (Princeton University Press, 2017). It is a universal source of entertainment, competitiveness, and unity commonly recognised by the United Nations.

Sport is an essential element of many modern-day cultures, and has is recognised as a human right by the United Nations “sports and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide: sport has been increasingly recognised and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development, and peace building efforts” (United Nations, 2014). The United Nation declares sport as a fundamental right and a powerful tool, “in 1978, UNESCO described sport… as a “fundamental right for all”. They further describe sport to have a “unique power to attract, mobilise and inspire. By its very nature, sport is about participation. It is about inclusion and citizenship. It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, teamwork, and fairness” (United Nations, 2014).

Sports and displays of athleticism have been a part of society for thousands of years. The earliest recorded sporting event in history was the Ancient Olympic Games in 760 BC (Topendsports, 2014). While only one event – a ‘footrace’ – was hosted, throughout history sports such as wrestling, equestrian, javelin, jumping etc. have been added to the Olympic line-up (Topendsports, 2014).

The first international Olympic Games were held on the 6th of April 1896, in Athens, Greece. There were 241 males, which represented 14 nations and competed in 43 events (History, 2009). The second Olympiad was held in 1900, in Paris, France. Housing 997 athletes, 22 of them, being women. All athletes were from a range of 24 countries, which competed in 95 events (History, 2009). Today the Olympic Games are the most watched sporting event in history with 26 sports played in the summer Olympics (Topendsports, 2013). Our most recent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio housed 11,237 athletes from 204 countries (International Olympic Committee, 2016).

It is evident, that the evolution of the Olympic Games alone has had a significant impact on international culture as a globalising force, improving athlete and spectator opportunities, while also international links.

Accordingly to Adam Hofstetter, journalist for the Atlantic, “sports have long been idealised as a way to heal wounds, mend fences, and rise above differences among cultures and nations” (Hofstetter, 2010).

In 2008 the province of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia after its bid to be recognised as Europe’s newest country (Bilefsky, 2008). This was long after a civil war that had killed 10,000 people and numerous years of limbo under the United Nations rule (Bilefsky, 2008).

After its years of living as a new founded country, 2016 marked the beginning and recognition of Kosovo as independent. The Kosovo Olympic Committee introduced eight athletes to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games (USA TODAY, 2016). Head of the Kosovo Olympic Committee Besim Hasani said, “for the first time, we are feeling what it means to be equal among all the other athletes” (USA TODAY, 2016). Furthermore, Kosovo has also become a member of FIFA and UEFA, which will allow them to compete in the 2018 World Cup qualifying (USA TODAY, 2016).

2017 has marked its first year of Kosovo competing in the FIFA qualifiers, with Australian football star Besart Berisha flying to home to represent the country where he was born (Trégourès, 2017). While losing to Iceland 2-1, the game was more than a football match. It is acknowledge that sports diplomacy has been an integral strategy played by Kosovo to “garner international recognition” (Trégourès, 2017). Kosovo’s participation in international sport events such as the FIFA qualifiers and the Olympic games has been a symbolic way for a newly deemed independent country to show evidence of its existence.

It is evident how diplomatic sports can be, in the instances of Kosovo’s and its independence. It is still evident that countries such as Serbia, Russia and Greece are opposed to allowing the country to participate in friendly games (Trégourès, 2017). This can be seen where the following countries opposed FIFA to allow Kosovo to participate in leagues such as the UEFA. It was not until 2013 that Serbia pledged to stop obstruction Kosovo’s path into international sporting organisations (Trégourès, 2017). While Kosovo still faces difficulties stepping into other international organisations, it is through the adoption of sports that has allowed the independence of Kosovo flourish and become a symbol of the countries identity (Trégourès, 2017).

The Olympic Truce is an ancient tradition dating back to the 9th century B.C (Gary and Rubin, 2012). The Truce “provides safe passage for athletes, families, and pilgrims traveling to the Olympic Games. For seven days before, during and seven days after the Olympic Games, in the spirit of peaceful cooperation, participating countries agreed to cease all conflicts” (Gary and Rubin, 2012).

During the conflict in Yugoslavia, that included the Security Council sanctions against athletes from the warring sides to travel to the Barcelona Games. The International Olympic Committee reintroduced the Truce by calling all nations to view the Olympic truce and allow athletes and spectators to roam freely to and from the games (The Sport Digest, 2014). The Committee went further and established a Truce document tittles “Building a peaceful and better world through sports and the Olympic Idea” (The Sport Digest, 2014), this urged nations to respect the Truce seven days before and seven days after the Olympic Games (The Sport Digest, 2014). It was then that the truce gained immense support.

In October of 2011, the 66th Session of the General Assembly implemented Resolution 66/5 with a view to “building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic idea” (Gary and Rubin, 2012). The Truce was signed by 193 Member States of the U.N. to observe the Olympic Truce for 45 days from the opening ceremony of the XXX Olympic games to the closing ceremony of the XIV Paralympic games (Gary and Rubin, 2012). While we must acknowledge that this Truce has not always been respected by all countries through history, it still provides encouragement to nations to unite and respect one another in order to “enhance the well-being of vulnerable people throughout the world” (Gary and Rubin, 2012).

As a globalising and culturally unifying force, sport also has beneficial impact on the international economy through tourism. Major sporting events not only attract fans on a national level, but also on an international level stimulating thee economy through the increased tourism. This can be seen during the FIFA World Cup and the Rugby World Cup were the hosting countries have made an impression on fanatic fans and as a result have increased their tourism rate.

According to Professor Simon Shibli, Head of Sports Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam, “fans and tourists bring in money that normally wouldn’t be there… This money benefits accommodation providers, local travel, shops – even car parks” (Thorne, 2015). Sports tourism provides the opportunity for increased media coverage, which entices travellers to explore a new opening and also serves the opportunity for tourists to create relationships with locals, which will further stimulate the frequency of tourism in that particular country (Thorne, 2015).

Sports tourism provides the country the opportunity to “showcase the cultural heritage of the country such as its history, historical sites, food, music and overall what makes the host unique and interesting” (Rampersad, 2015). This is prevalent through the opening ceremonies of the Olympic and World Cup Games. These events generate a rapid and increasingly competitive media market, were broadcasters compete to secure the rights to broadcast these events (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). This rewards broadcasters with blanket coverage at a peak time and increases the marketing benefits to the city in both a short-term and long-term stretch (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

Moreover, this is a catalyst for the expansion and improvements of local infrastructure and urban regeneration including hotels, sporting arenas and facilities, transport networks, telecommunication (Rampersad, 2015). In 1994 Brisbane was set to house the World Masters Games (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). This was predicted to cost the city more than $2.8 million to organise, however, generated revenue of $50.6 million from economic activities (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

In Indianapolis during the 1970s, the mid-western US city was suffering through a decline of its manufacturing base, the popular car industry. Schimmel explains that the result of the city not having an image was resulting in its dramatic decline, and through sport, this was able to ignite economic regeneration (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). An estimated $1.7 billion in public and private resources were invested in the cities construction between 1974-1984, where sports infrastructure was largely emphasised. The city then became a regular host of notable sporting events, during 1991 up to 18 sports organisations and 9 sporting facilities also providing the opportunity to employ 526 people (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). Davidson estimated that the contribution of sports organisation, facilities and events had an economic contribution of $133 million (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

The image of Indianapolis and rate of tourism rapidly increased and this showcases the benefits of sporting events as a catalyst for economic regeneration – and this can be observed all over the world.

While sports culture enables the generation of peace and alliance between countries and serves as a catalyst for economic regeneration. We must acknowledge the driving force and popularity behind these ideas, that is their fan following.

Support for and alignment with a particular athlete or team enables a sense of belonging for fans known as ‘sports identification’ (Balint, 2010). It provides an escape from the realities of day-to-day life, creates a sense of engagement and relation to others, can establish a sense of unity and can boost self-esteem (Balint, 2010). According to Allen R. McConnell, a Professor of Psychology at Miami University, the strong connection fans have with their teams and sporting idols, is deeply rooted in our “ strong need to feel connected, to be part of something greater, to be something more than just an individual on an island…it’s a very basic social need” (Balint, 2010). Research demonstrates that, for these reasons, supporting a team is beneficial for individual wellbeing (Almendrala, 2015) as “people are looking for ways to identify with something, to feel a sense of belonging-ness with a group of like-minded individuals” (Almendrala, 2015). Wann further emphasises that “fandom allows you to gain those connections, which then, in turn, provides you with social and psychological health” (Almendrala, 2015).

While athletes and teams provide a sense of unity amongst their fans, athletes find a source of motivation and determination from the support of their spectators.

According to Wann “some athletes thrive under this pressure, [while] others don’t”. Without a crowd at the Super Bowl or the NRL Grand Final, these sporting events would not be as high profile and compelling as there are today.

While all sports are different and varying levels of noise control are required for crowds respectively, the American NFL League is one that goes hand in hand with the energy that the crowds produce. The Detroit Lions vs. the Chicago Bears in 2011 was a game that many have not forgotten. The Lions home crowd defended their team immensely, causing the Bears to committed nine false losing 24-13 (Schalter, 2013).

Former Lions defensive end Lawerence Jackson recounts the atmosphere of that night “The Fans. They just went crazy the entire night. With the penalties they were forcing, it was special. I think that was probably the most energetic game that I’ve ever played in” (Schalter, 2013). He further emphasised how dependent athletes are on their fans, “you attach to that energy, and you want to do something that keeps that energy going. It just takes you to a different level, in the sense that you’re not afraid – almost like you’re invincible” (Schalter, 2013). In the instance of an NFL game, silence is a worrying sign – and as a result of this players often feel the pressure to pump up the fans (Schalter, 2013). Lawerence explains that this chanting can often fuel the momentum of the game, silence is natural but certain positions and players on the field often need the support and sound for the crowd as a source of motivation, focus and adrenaline. Lawerence says “it’s a collective, it’s not just one play: it’s the whole game. There are times when you need to be loud, no matter what. When the offense turns the ball over… that’s done with. But the defence is out there… at that point more than ever – we need to let the visiting team know we’re not giving in. We’re going out there to kick some ass” (Schalter, 2013).

While it is evident that according to the type of sport, crowd activity can act as a source of distraction impacting the focus of the athlete and atmosphere of the game. However, it is evident that for a range of sporting events, an energetic crowd acts as a fuel of motivation for their beloved athletes. In the cases of the NFL, constant sound and chanting aids the momentum of the game and provokes the athletes to outperform their opponent.

It is evident that the culture of sports impacts the world and its people in a diverse range of ways. It enables the unification of nations and acts as a source of identity for its fan and further provides them with a sense of belonging. It establishes relationships between athletes and their home and urges cities and countries to modify and regenerate their surroundings in order to stimulate and improve the economic well-being of their nations.

It is evident that sports culture is globally recognised. Since its first origins in the world, sport has been a crucial component in the disposition of society. It influences on national economy, and its abilities to unite nations and communities will continue to prevail.

 

Bibliography

Arsenals first team re-enacted Arsene Wenger’s worst nightmare.

Arsenal was left in shambles after Sunday’s game against Liverpool FC.

Arsenal’s significant 4-0 loss had their performance labelled as “absolutely disastrous” and “unacceptable” by their manager Arsene Wenger after the team were a ‘ghost side’ at Anfield.

17 minutes into the first half, Robert Firmino secured Liverpool’s first goal of the match, heading the ball past Arsenal’s keeper Petr Cech, who palmed it to the back of the net.

Wenger’s starting line-up disappointed Arsenal fans, having newly transferred Alexander Laccazette sitting on the bench for the first half of the game. Fans continued to question Sanchez starting in centre field, after being sidelined for the season opener against Chealsea, due to a previous injury.

Liverpool dismantled the Arsenal side, leaving little hope for a comeback in the second half after Salah robbed Bellerin to settle the margin 3-0. Shortly after Salah sinking the ball into the goal to bring Liverpool up into second place on the table.

After this week’s performance, Wenger’s future relationship with the club has come in to question despite his contract being recently extended by two years.

“From the first minute to the last minute [Arsenal] were not at the level requested for such a game. Not physically, not technically, not mentally and we were punished. That’s basically it. Of course, you can analyse the chances we gave away, but I just think overall the performance was not at the requested level,” said manager Wegner in a short press conference after the game.

 

With the transfer market coming to a close end, and after today’s performance it was clear Arsenals players were torn in a decision to stay at the club. With Arsenal’s defender Mustafi wanting to leave after a bittersweet 12 months with the club, beg the question as to whether Oxlade-Chamberlin and Sanchez’s career at the club are now on the rocks.

While it may be too early to predict Arsenal’s finishing place on the ladder this season, many fans have lost their confidence in the team’s strategy.

The NRL to make finals history with the games first pair of female referees.

The NRL has announced the league’s commitment to bring more gender equality to the game with the introduction of female referees.

While 2017 has seen more women commentating and reporting on the game, the industry said Australia will see female referees on the field from round 26 this year.

However, referees boss Tony Archer failed to give them the cut to referee the main games this weekend. The decision is set to shake up the ‘boys-only’ stigma the NRL holds.

Renowned NRL referee Bill Harrigan supported the decision, encouraging a fair go for ladies who met the standard for professional NRL refereeing.

“I’m deadset against tokenism and I’d never appoint a referee just because she’s a woman. But the whole squad knows that she has earnt it,” the legend told the Daily Telegraph.

While female referees Belinda Sleeman and Kasey Badger have demonstrated their ability this season refereeing the Holden Cup and NRL touch games, these women are ready to set foot in the rugby league finals round.

The upcoming rounds not only mark the finals football for the year, but also a stepping-stone for female referees. Sleeman and Badger have been selected as touch judges for the opening week of the finals.

Badger will be waving the flag in Friday night’s showdown between the Roosters and Broncos at Allianz Stadium. Sleeman will man the line in Saturdays clash for a sudden-death final between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Penrith Panthers.

Archer recognises the significant contribution ladies like Sleeman and Badger are making to the game and the quality of refereeing.

“They are not part of the women’s program – they are simply part of our overall emerging referees squad,” Archer said.

With the referee’s big boss in high spirits, the finals rounds will have these women in the spotlight to not only welcome the NRL finals, but a bench mark in the NRL referee history.

Kygrios exhibits unlawful sportsmanship and aggressive rage after another horrific loss in this year ITF Tour.

It is not the first time this year we have seen the Australian tennis star suffer and blame a sports injury for an epic loss.

Nick Kygrios continues to showcase a lack of sportsmanship in this year’s loss at the US Open.

The 22-year old relived his past; this comes after battling against his courtside box during the defeat, while also needing a medical time out to cater to a shoulder injury.

After going down to fellow Aussie John Millman 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round in New York City. It seemed that the young tennis star was unable to acknowledge his disappointing defeat and attitude.

In the fourth set, Kygrios was issued a code violation by umpire Carlos Ramos. This was after linesmen reported the player swearing on court, a claim that Kygrios has publicly denied.

Kygrios told the chairman, “I didn’t swear. You can’t give me a code. You don’t even know what I said”.

Shortly after, the tennis star destroyed his racquet in a rage of anger, accumulating a second code violation and a mandatory point penalty to begin the fourth set.

Earlier this year, Kygrios made a statement claiming he no longer loved the game as he once did.

“There are players out there that are more dedicated, that want to get better, that strive to get better every day, the one-per-centers,” said Kygrios after his loss to Millman at the US Open. “I’m not that guy.”

This follows his lack of dedication during this year Cincinnati Masters, he told media “I was playing basketball… every day for two hours. I played an hour of basketball before I played David Ferrer in the semi-final.”

Kygrios admits his new coach Frenchman Sebastien Grosiean deserves better, as there are other tennis players who have the dedication and drive he is lacking, to progress in the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Kygrios has been chosen to compete for Australia in the Davis Cup Semi-final against Belgium, which begins later this year on the 15th September.

The Davis Cup will be one of the last tournaments of 2017 for Kygrios.

Hat-trick Heartbreak, the eagles suffer yet another heartbreaking loss.

Ingleburn Eagles fans flocked down to Ron Dine Memorial in support for the All Age 3 finals day.

The Eagles were hoping the third time would be a charm today, after having made the final for the last two years, however, coming home with a defeat.

The game started slowly with the Eagles defending against their opponent, the Bradbury Bears. After fifteen minutes in, the nerves of both teams calmed and players stepped up to the ball. Eagles players defended hard, giving any opportunity to give to their striker to take a shot for goal.

Eagles Co-Caption Ricky Davidson says, “we started off shaky but by the time that whistle blew we all knew that we had to make this year memorable.

“Half time gave us the opportunity to regather and come out harder than we did in the first half.”Untitled.png

The last 15 minutes saw a yellow card awarded to both teams, for misconduct and foul play. Neither the Eagles nor the Bears were strong enough to execute a goal during 90 minutes of game time.

“We created more opportunities than them where they only looked dangerous on set pieces, which is what has been an issue for us this season especially against Bradbury”, said Eagles player Dean Morgan.

After 0-0 at full time, the finals went into extra time with two halves played for fifteen minutes each.

Aggression from both sides was at its all time high, fighting for the goal to break the games drought. Lindsay Short was able to score the Eagles first goal during extra time, later followed by a goal from the Bradbury bears.

The Eagles then stepped into an even penalty shootout. With a man down after a controversial red card during the second half, this did not dampen their spirits. The first penalty goal taken by the Eagles spirits where soaring, taking the lead 2-1.

As the score became neck to neck, the pressure set in for each of the goalies to save the reputation of their team. With only two shots left, the scoreboard read 5-5.

Ricky Davidson took the last shot for the Eagles, angling the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal proved no match for the bear’s goalie saving their last shot.

The eagles stood stunned as the last bears player stepped up to take the games last goal, with pressure riding high the midfielder took the shot high into the left corner causing eagles goalie to dive and miss the goal.

Dean explained the heartbreak after the third consecutive loss. “Its just hard to swallow losing another penalty shoot out in consecutive years. When it gets to penalties it’s a toff of a coin”.

With some players vouching to hang up their boots after years for playing for the Ingleburn Eagles, it has only the club to come back next year with a stronger team.

We are yet to see what the 2018 league is yet to bring.

Richmond’s AFL grand final awakening

Richmond produced its best on the biggest stage and has fulfilled the dreams of there lifelong fans.

This year, the AFL Grand Final housed two of the most competitive sides in the competition. The Richmond Tigers were set to face and battle out against its hidden long-time rivals the Adelaide Crows.

Richmond fans have dealt with multiple wooden spoons, save our skins and ‘Ninthmond’ jokes but this year’s grand final saw nothing but black and yellow flood the field.

Tension and angst flooded the MCG as Tigers and Crows fans flocked in support of their teams to take out this years Grand final.

This was the first time Richmond had seen a final, after a long 37-year wait.

And today, their drought was put to an end. The Richmond Tigers defeated the Crows with a 48-point lead in front of 100,021 fans and the MCG.

The Adelaide Crows came out with a firing start, managing two goals in the opening minutes of the game.

Shortly after goals were rewarded to Tigers players Josh Caddy and Bachar Houli to tighten the gap between the teams. But the Crows hit back to lead with an 11-point lead in the first break.

For a quarter and a half, Richmond led by 28 points leaving the Crows goalless, with motivation and adrenaline running high. Crow’s Taylor Walker broke Adelaide’s goal drought through the third term.

The Tigers were quick to fight back, taking the next four goals to break free with a 48-point lead early on in the game moment where Richmond fans stood in a state of disbelief, beginning to anticipate that this year was theirs.

Despite Adelaide coming back to score three late consolation goals, the spirits of the Tigers prevailed and took the team to victory.

While both teams performed, this years AFL final proved to be the highlight for the underdogs. Finally providing the opportunity for the Tigers to step up and claim the 2017 Premiership, a moment long awaited for die-hard fans.

David Reynolds takes home the Bathurst 1000 claiming a 4th win

The Bathurst 1000 was plunged into chaos the Australian weather lived up to its unpredictable nature, causing the V8 drivers to battle through a whirlwind of rain.

The weather did not serve as an obstacle for Aussie jokester and Holden driver David Reynolds securing his first place victory. The 32-year-old driver battled through the horrific weather conditions, and a series of crashes and safety cars in the end stages.

The victory secured by a 4 second lead on his fellow drivers.

The days efforts tested all drivers to their limits, “I’ve got nothing left to give” Reynolds said.

Reynolds partner Luke Youlden was speechless, excited to have won his first Bathurst 1000 on his 18th attempt. The teammates stood together with pride to honour the team’s victory.

Reynolds mentioned his gratitude towards his teammate and crew, “I am absolutely spent. This bloke drove unbelievably all day. My crew was faultless. Man, it was just a perfect day. It was so good.”

Reynolds celebrated in a ‘true Aussie’ style taking off his racing boot as a glass for a victory champagne drink.

Reynolds and Youlden’s win was also a victory for the team and owner Betty Klimenko.

Reynolds moved to Klimenko’s team two years ago, from former powerhouse FPR to substitute Erebus walkout Will Davison. Joining Erebus has proved a solid professional move for Reynolds.

“This team just ticks every box,” he said.

Team owner and dedicated V8 personality Klimeko was visibly emotional after her team conquered ‘the mountain’, unable to offer comment on the win.

Reynolds pitted for slick tyres with 31 laps to go, and with his focus and determination he was able to drive and achieve a historic win. This years Bathurst 1000 resulted in an epic win for the underdogs.

The Philadelphia Eagles secure a 5-1 in the beginning of the NFL season

The Philadelphia Eagles claimed their victory over the Carolina Panthers in a 28-23 showdown, now progressing to 5-1 on the season.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz overshadowed Panthers counterpart Cam Newtown, despite the Eagles having a slow start to the game.

Wentz had a huge game, throwing for 222 yards and scoring three touchdowns against one of the top defensive teams of the NFL.

The Eagles, fired back turning two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points, going on to score two touchdown passes by Wentz and Zach Ertz. Wentz later added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor late in the fourth quarter.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson commended Wentz’s performance despite stil being new to the big league.

“He’s a great leader of this football team, even in his second year,” said Pederson.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newtown managed to throw three interceptions for Caroline, with the first to being inside the teams 20. His third interception by Jalen Mills came with only 3 minutes and 6 seconds left on the clock, leaving no chance for a break in the scoreboard.

Panthers middleliner backer Luke Kuechly was put into concussion protocol after his body crumpled, due to a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks. Due to concussions, Kuechly has missed nine games over two seasons.

Panthers Captain Munnerlyn told Sports Illustrated that Luke’s absence on the field had been felt by the team.

“Luke is a big part of what we do, ” he said.

As the next round in this years season approaches, the Eagles are set to host the Washington Redskins on October 23, while the Panthers are set to meet the Chicago Bears on October 22.

Behind the Face of Addiction

We envision black eyes, aged faces, sobbing families and cries for a new beginning. It is what some fear to admit most, in angst that their lives could crumble, while for others it is the signal for change.

Addiction is among us, in forms that are not obvious to society. If we are uneducated on addiction, how are we able to make the judgement on ‘addicts’?

According to Psychology today, addiction is a “condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships or health”.

Addiction is commonly associated with drugs, gambling and alcohol. Although, according to scientific research, it is possible to be addicted to anything, for example work. Individuals can be obsessed with their work to the extent that they begin to suffer from physical and mental exhaustion. Another example is solvents, the inhalation of substances such as glue or paint to give you the feeling of intoxication.

 There are multiple perspectives on the neurological findings of addiction. According to the Institute of Medicine, it suggests that social environmental and psychological factors are contributing aspects to addiction. Each time we do something pleasurable, the human brain is equipped to reward us. Our daily behaviours linked to health and survival releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is one of the chemicals that transmit information from one neuron to the next. How are we affected by dopamine is determined by where it comes from and the role in which it plays when

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 releasing and receiving neurons.

 Within the brain, there are two main areas that produce and disseminate dopamine, the Substantia Nigra and the Ventral Tegmental area. Dopamine from the substantia nigra allows us to move and begin speech, where as the ventral tegmental sends dopamine to the brain once we expect or received a reward.

 Dopamine can be triggered by anything that alludes to pleasure and reward; the feeling of ‘high’ is awoken when the dopamine is activated. It is the feeling that prompts individuals to continue to seek this ‘high’ repeatedly, and ultimately leading to addiction.

 It is apparent that there is more beyond the surface of addiction. Understanding the way in which it affects an individual’s mental capacity is integral before assuming the generic perceptions of addicts.

For more information on Dopamine and movement: http://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/movement/2015/dopamine-and-movement

Hi, I’m Chris and I’m an Addict.

Investigating the story of a former ice addict, who has now celebrated more than five years of being sober. 

It was his eyes of empathy a smile of sympathy and a humble tone.

“Hi, I’m Chris. And I’m an addict”.

 In a bare room with chairs placed in the shape of a square, sat a young man, whose willingness to reform and succumb to spirituality enlightened an outsider like myself around the life of a former addict

 The foundations of fellowship and the ability to be grateful for each individual day is what brought Chris to restoration.

 A young man from a stable and ‘normal’ family, with a job no one had thought he was able to obtain explains his journey.

 “I used to live in Brisbane, where my addiction first began.

 “But, it wasn’t till I came to Sydney that I first encountered ice.

 “Work gave me time off to get myself together.

 “It wasn’t until I first met Erica that I knew I had a problem.

 “She said to me ‘hey you’re one of us’

 “I needed to seek help, crystal meth anonymous (CMA) was my first step.”

 His chin began to chatter, his voice began to quaver and his empathetic blue eyes shone in the light as tears dampened his eyes.

 “When I was 14, I became a massive pothead.

 “When I was 17, someone offered me a line of cocaine at a party.

 “And from that night, that’s when I kept going back”.

 At such a young age Chris’s addiction caused him to lose his loved ones, and the relationships he had held were gradually destroyed.

 “At the age of 14 I was kicked out of home. I was a pothead and that’s when I started to become a heavy drinker.

 “My relationship with my parents was really rough from a young age.

 “Having said that, they are good people and my sister turned out fine.

 “It was all about me.

 “Relationships with friends, employers, I burnt bridges. Over and over again.”

 He explained that he has lived a cycle of relapse and rehabilitation.

 “The job I got 10 years ago, I had already entered recovery. I already started working on relationships and myself.

 “There was a lot of effort to keep that job over the 10 years, I’m pretty proud of it.

 “At the age of 22 I went to Centrelink to seek help.

“I was unemployed; I was on the dole and selling drugs for a living.

 “I wasn’t a very well young man, I was about 42kg. I was wearing my only shirt and my jeans were hanging off my hips and I had a bumbag around my shoulder.”

 On this day however, he had  neatly groomed grey hair and well-trimmed face, and wore a perfectly ironed polo.

I sat there, staring back at what I had perceived to be an everyday ‘normal’ human, coming and going to work each day and embracing the city life here in Sydney.

I was wrong, his past identity was unravelling in front me. Behind a quaint smile, sat a tarnished individual  laying to bare what he once was.

 He explained, “they took me to a councillor and showed me pamphlets to rehab. And being there that’s when I was introduced to meetings.

 “They put me through a course where I had to write a resume. I was so angry with the guy running the course, he kept hitting me with questions and I kept yelling back and screaming.

 “But then I had a moment of clarity.

“I said this isn’t the person I’ve ever wanted to be and I broke down crying.

 “It was the first time I cried in memory.

 “Up to that time it was me against the world.”

 Managing his emotion, he uttered, “It’s always been me alone”.

 I could tell his thoughts were coming back to him, as he began to sit up straighter than he had before. A sense of strength settled as he began retelling his past.

 “After I stopped crying, these two little ladies came out of no where and listened to me cry for what felt like hours.

“They picked me up and took me to a counselor  within ten minutes I was on the phone organising arrangements to a rehab.

 “This was the first of my four experiences in different rehabs.

 “I was shocked when I went there, I wasn’t used to living in the daylight or used to the realms of living in a habit of have 3 meals a day and sleeping at night.

 “It was making me angry.

 “I really didn’t take to the rules well. I was supposed to be in there for 9 months, but after 30 days I was asked to leave.

 “There was a bit of an incident…

 “Yeah I wasn’t following the rules.”

His pause spoke louder than any words. He had hit a verbal wall – a point in his life that he was not proud of or willing to speak about. He went on to praise a long-time friend Brad, his sponsor.

 “Asking Brad to be my sponsor was like asking a girl out on a date – having the fear they might say no.

 “Even though I came and went from this fellowship I knew I had to find someone I could rely on and help me do the things I was meant to.

 “When I asked him, he was very standoffish. He said I was a very angry man and he was scared. You’ve met Brad, he’s a sparkly gay boy and I’m not like that.

 “But we went out to lunch the next day and he said if we’re going to do this, you’ve got to do what I say.”

 It seemed Brad was like a security blanket for Chris. A warm hearted soul that was willing to take on board the health and stability of another.

 “Brad told me I had to ring him every day, practise making phone calls and establish a relationship of trust.

 “He wanted me to know that if something went wrong, without hesitation I could pick up the phone and call him.

 “During these phone calls, he got me to write down a gratitude list – five things I was grateful for. Then I had to share that with him every day and this went on for 90 days.

 “This list could be anything, some days I was grateful I was able to pay my rent, grateful for clean dishes and clean water. After a while he started to ask follow up questions and eventually, he too started to share his list with me.”

 The feeling of remorse engulfed him, but the feeling of belonging to like-minded people was stronger and is what gave him a sense of security.

 “It actually worked.

 “It got me into the habit of calling him.

 “I knew my time was worthwhile.

 “After three weeks of saying what I was grateful for I had a major shift in my attitude.

 “I felt gratitude, the biggest thing he did for me was give me a sense of gratitude.

 “I’ve been to other fellowships and other rehabs but I’ve never felt like I ever belonged.

 “You know I’m not covered in tattoos, I’ve got all my teeth, heroin isn’t my story and I’m not the average alcoholic down at the pub.

 “I never felt like I connected”.

 It was then I had realised my own misconceptions about this man. It was the preconceived idea that this man was like what I saw at the pictures, a character created to fit a stereotype of a minority of people, battling a problem or as some at the meeting called a disease.

 An unimaginable circumstance for people I thought were classified as ‘normal’, until I sat across from this young man who had the willingness to talk to me.

 As our chat was drawing to a close, I couldn’t help but ask, do the stereotypes society create about people at these meetings ever have an effect on you?

He chuckled.

 “When you’re in that state, you’re only consumed with yourself and you have no sense of what’s around you.

 “When I was using it was all about me, it was me against the world.

 “I was stereotyped by myself, I didn’t think I was ever going to live a normal life

 “I didn’t care what other people thought, I’m sure they would’ve thought shit about me. It would be pretty hard not too.”

 I could hear the knot grow bigger, and bigger in his throat as he struggled to say his next sentence.

 “I didn’t think I was ever going to stop, I thought I was always going to be an addict. Yeah I wasn’t covered in tattoos but I certainly was a junkie. I thought I was going to die using.”

The room began to hum as the other members of the groups started arriving for the day’s meeting. Our conversation drawing to a close, Chris said being connected to others is what has led him to be the man he is today

 “Being at these meetings I feel connected.

“We are told to believe in spirituality and a higher power, to give ourselves to something higher than humanity.

 “For me the Serenity prayer and the 3rd Step Prayer and two that give me a sense of comfort and reassurance.

 “Honesty, faith, belonging and connection.

 “I come to these meetings for me.

 “And after a while you come to give back, I come to share joy with these people. That really does make life worth living.”

 We envision black eyes, aged faces, sobbing families and cries for a new beginning.

 It wasn’t the person with an incessant twitch, or tattoos and piercings; it wasn’t the bloodshot eyes and trembling hands. And it wasn’t the person screaming ‘I hate the world’ that I was looking at.

 It was the mechanical engineer, dressed in blue board shorts with a Disneyland hoodie and a smile on his face that sat across from me.

 He was what I had never thought an addict would be.

 What we see and what we hear are a societal construction, what we learn and understand uncovers humanity and emotion.