When I was a child, sport was afternoons watching my Dad and his cronies playing a gentle game of club cricket. We played with other children and learned when to clap and cheer. Always in fun, no-one cared who won.
At school the idea of competition crept in: would you be the last one picked for a play-ground game of touch-tag? Then growing older, teams began to matter. Were you good enough to be in the under-11s, 12s? Could you punch above your weight and represent the age group higher than your own?
Sport was no longer just fun - it had a bearing on your status in life. Then, there was a moment watching the grown-ups play, when you realised that there was something more at stake. Tactics, even cheating came into the picture. For me there was a defining moment watching the rugby at Iffley Road in Oxford when a supporter yelled out, at a scrum: "Watch Mr Laidlaw put the ball in, Ref." I turned to my Dad and asked what this meant. He explained. Suddenly I understood.
Sport was not just playing the game. It was more, so very much more. What mattered was winning, and scruples were placed aside as a representation of life was battled out in a sporting arena.
Years passed and I grew up but still there was the belief that sport was mostly entertainment although results were always crucial. However money had not yet come to dominate the sports I followed and the idea of serious injury was a world away.
Then, as for many of my generation, everything changed over the course of one desperate and dark weekend in Italy. The date Saturday April 30, 1994. The venue The San Marina Formula 1 Motor Racing Circuit at Imola. Out of sight of the cameras Roland Ratzenburger (forever to be known as "the other one") crashed and subsequently died as a result of his injuries. Nonetheless, the very next day the race itself started as scheduled. There was another crash at the start: our hearts were in our mouths, but all was well. They took the restart. A few minutes later, Ayrton Senna's Williams F1 car speared off the track at Tamburello, and the world watched as a god of motor-racing died before our eyes.
Time to grow-up. Sport was no longer simply an entertainment for spectators and fans, or a fun thing to do for participants. It had become, in the most real and vivid way, a matter of life and death.
Since that day, I find I have to constantly re-evaluate my motives for watching and following not only motor-sport, but so many other disciplines in which participants, some major stars, some lesser-known lights, risk injury and even death to entertain us, the fans.
This is the same process we go through every day in our own lives learning that every little decision we make may change everything for us or another human being.