With the digital age and range of broadcasting greater than ever before, American sports have grown from an underground following to almost a mainstream audience in Australia.
Among the audience are plenty of AFL players whose favourites usually consist of NFL and NBA. Port Adelaide’s Hamish Hartlett, however, likes the lesser known of the USA’s big sports.
Speaking to aflplayers.com.au, Hartlett said the connection between his favourite American sport and our indigenous game makes it easy to enjoy.
“The NHL is similar to our game, I suppose, in the fact that it’s incredibly physical and fast-paced. The guys are incredibly skilful. Ice-skating by itself is hard to do let alone carrying a puck, trying to avoid getting smashed, and all the things that come with professional ice hockey. It’s a great game,” Hartlett said.
“My boys are the Blackhawks. I jumped on the bandwagon a couple of years ago and I think they’d already won two Stanley Cups. I went over to Chicago a couple of years ago and managed to watch one of their games and jumped on pretty hard.”
The 24-year-old has come of age at the Power after an injury-riddled beginning to his career. Hartlett’s rise in form has coincided with the club’s climb up the ranks from 2013 onwards.
He’s grown some notoriety with his deadly foot-skills – as was on show against the Hawks when he booted a massive goal around the corner on the boundary from 50 metres out during a first-quarter blitz.
But as freakish as that finish was and his kicking can be, Hartlett can’t help but enjoy the abilities of a few well-known players. He even has front row seats to a couple of them.
“some of the things Robbie Gray does at training or in games, I just look back and think ‘how has he possibly done that?’” – Hamish Hartlett
“You just marvel at the guys like Gary Ablett and some of the things he can do. Fortunately for me, I get to see similar things week to week from Robbie Gray. He’s got some similar attributes to Gary Ablett – as has been documented – and some of the things Robbie does at training or in games, I just look back and think ‘how has he possibly done that?’.
“Chad Wingard’s got that X-factor as well, I suppose, so I’m pretty fortunate to witness that sort of stuff each week.”
After seeing the impact injury can have on an AFL career, the powerfully built West Adelaide product isn’t taking his time in the game for granted and is already preparing for life outside of football.
Without pigeonholing himself to a certain industry, Hartlett, who is currently studying business and sport development, says the club makes sure the players’ off-field interests are a priority.
“Your development off the field is something the football club has honed in on over the last couple of years and the Players’ Association focuses pretty heavily on that area too. We’ve got four or five of us doing a dual Diploma in Business and Sport Development at the moment, which is going well.
“We have guys studying law, psychology, architecture, ‘Schulzy’s’ got his personal training business off to the side, and ‘Jacko’s’ got his clothing range so there’s a bit going on at the club and it gets your mind away from footy which is really important.
“Development, recruitment, media, I’m not sure what path I want to go down but I think I want to stay in football somehow. It’s just something I’ve been involved in for a very long time and my passion runs pretty deep within the game.”