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It is the people, not the product that makes sport

Rory Sloane of the Crows is seen with Sam Jacobs after the AFL qualifying final match between the Adelaide Crows and GWS Giants at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, on Thursday, September 7, 2017.
Rory Sloane of the Crows is seen with Sam Jacobs after the AFL qualifying final match between the Adelaide Crows and GWS Giants at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, on Thursday, September 7, 2017. DAVID MARIUZ

AS CROW Brodie Smith sat contemplating a season- ending knee injury on Thursday night, he was joined on the bench by Sam Jacobs.

The towering ruckman had just played his heart out to help send the Adelaide side into a home preliminary final.

Only a week earlier, he had lost his older brother to illness.

Smith, understandably aggrieved at his own misfortune, put an arm around the big man's shoulders and the pair shared an embrace.

To those who knew the back-story, it was a touching moment between two mates. For those who didn't, it looked the exact same. Context didn't matter.

There was plenty spoken about Jacobs in the lead-up to the clash against GWS.

No person, least of all his team mates, could have blamed Jacobs for not playing.

But second only to his immediate family is his Crows family, and thus he made the decision to play.

For all the negativity that surrounds modern sport, Thursday night provided a reminder of the positives.

But sometimes it is an uphill battle.

The sports pessimist has it easy. He looks to the back pages of international media and his online diatribe is readily written for him, as story after story surfaces of athletes behaving poorly.

We're talking the Essendon drug scandal, footballers facing courts over tax evasion, and the seemingly never-ending list of NFL players called into question over drug and domestic violence charges.

The prevalence of football hooliganism in Europe spawned too many books and films to list.

But here's the thing - sport simply acts as a mirror for society. These kinds of acts happen outside of the field of play also. And it goes both ways.

Just as the worst of society comes together, so too does its best. And we saw that in spades this week.

Locally, the death of one of Ipswich's favourite sons Wilson "Junior Togia” Hansell was met with an instant and heart-warming response.

Ipswich took to social media to share their memories of a man who, through his love for sport and community, left those who met him better than before.

I never met Junior. But in amongst that sea of green and gold at Saturday's service, his legacy was clear for all to see.

That is the true, everlasting beauty of sport. Not the athletic feats or movie script finishes. But that it brings people together.

That same day, Junior's former club Brothers Ipswich played in and won a reserve grade grand final.

North Ipswich Reserve hosted hundreds; Eric Evans Oval, Sutton Park and the Doris Howes complex drew similar numbers for their respective finals.

Ipswich, as all communities, is built on sporting clubs.

They serve as the foundation for which lifelong friendships are formed. Where pride, passion and personality manifest not just in the winger who ran 90m down the touch line, but in the Mum taking donations at the gate.

Sport produces people like Wilson Hansell and Sam Jacobs, and that will always outweigh the negatives.

Topics:  junior togia sport opinion

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