THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #111 – Sociology Lecture

As finals go on, I have decided this week to bore you with a sociology lecture on Australia’s obsession with sport. What? Sport in a sports column? I must be losing it. Oh well – it’s just another view.

Australian Rules Football
AFL Finals Week 3
Preliminary Finals:
Collingwood 18.12 (120) def Geelong 11.13 (79)
St Kilda 13.10 (88) def Western Bulldogs 8.16 (64)
Jason Akermanis has released his long awaited autobiography. And after his treatment by the Bulldogs to end his career, what extracts have been released have been doozies! It seems full of venom and bile, so when it’s available I’ll read it and post a review for you all.
            Now, the big news is what players are going to be stolen from their clubs (sanctioned by the AFL of course) in order to establish this new Gold Coast club, a club that no one on the Gold Coast wants and that people are only joining in order to get a lot of money, not out of any sense of loyalty or history or anything. The latest rumour is Gary Ablett. All year it’s been a will-he, won’t-he affair. He still has not decided according to friends and colleagues. But the aspersions being cast on the poor guy’s character because of the obscene amount of money being offered to move is scary. Footballers have a short shelf life and unlike other so-called codes (*cough* soccer *cough*) where players get ridiculous sums of money for play acting, the money in Aussie Rules is not millionaire stuff. Who could blame a young man from taking the money and running in that climate? Poor guys – damned if they do and damned if they don’t. And yet again, the AFL does not care how this makes people seem – it’s only the apparent money they care about.
            And, finally, the Brownlow medal was presented on Monday night (our time). This is the award for the best and fairest in the competition, and is nearly always a very good choice, and is certainly an excellent celebration of the players of our fine game at the highest level.
3rd Dane Swan (Collingwood) (the favourite before the count)
2nd Gary Ablett Jr (Geelong) (my personal pick for the medal)
1st Chris Judd (Carlton) (bit of a dark horse, but always a consistent player)
            Well done to all involved.
SANFL Finals Week 2
First Semi-Final: Woodville-West Torrens 13.15 (93) def Glenelg 7.13 (55)
            Bye, Glenelg.
Second Semi-Final: Central Districts 12.9 (81) def Norwood 9.9 (63)
            Centrals into yet another grand final!
The Magarey Medal was awarded to the best and fairest player of the home and away season. A fine time to recognise the players that do make our state league so proud. Here’s the results:
3rd Ty Allen (Glenelg)
2nd Nick Lower (Norwood)
1st James Allan (North Adelaide)
            This is Allan’s second Medal (his last was in 2007) and does show that a stand out year in a mediocre team gives you a better shot at winning. This does not mean he did not deserve it. He did. His consistency was something that North Adelaide relied upon and he was one of the major reasons they did as well as they did. But in a better team would he have stood out as much? Would the two point gap between Allan and Lower have been reversed if Norwood had not had such a good year with so many fine players? And would this also have come into play in the AFL with Judd being a stand out in a team without many other stand outs?

Rugby League
NRL Finals Week 2
Canberra 24 def by Wests Tigers 26
Sydney Roosters 34 def Penrith 12
And the list goes on. One player has been accused of groping a girl in a night club. Another has been arrested for fighting in public. It just depresses me.

2010/11 Champions League Twenty20
            This is the competition with the best teams from the local leagues across the world. Victoria and South Australia are representing Australia in the competition.
Highveld Lions v South Australia
            South Australia 6/178; Highveld Lions 8/167 – South Australia won by 11 runs
Victorian Bushrangers v Chevrolet Warriors
Chevrolet Warriors 6/158; Victorian Bushrangers 9/130 – Chevrolet Warriors won by 28 runs
Mumbai Indians v South Australia
            Mumbai Indians 7/180; South Australia 5/182 (19.3 overs) – South Australia won by 5 wickets
Central Stags v Victorian Bushrangers
            Central Stags 5/165; Victorian Bushrangers 3/166 (19.4 overs) – Victorian won by 7 wickets
Royal Challengers Bangalore v South Australia
            Royal Challengers Bangalore 154 (19.5 overs); South Australia 2/155 (18.3 overs) – South Australia won by 8 wickets
Chennai Super Kings v Victoria
            Chennai Super Kings 6/162; Victoria 162 (20 overs) – Match tied
            Super over: Victoria 23 runs in 6 balls, Chennai Super Kings 13 runs in 6 balls
            Victoria won the one-over eliminator
The Pakistan thing keeps on growing. Now a recent one-day match is being investigated. Now, come on! Surely even Pakistan would not get involved in a match fixing incident while they were being investigated for match fixing, with the whole cricketing world watching them? Maybe it’s just jumping at shadows, but recent columns and articles in Australian newspapers seem to paint a much wider form of corruption than just some Pakistanis taking money. A Texas millionaire now in prison for fraud who bankrolled England and the West Indies teams; an Indian administrator accused of corruption and cocaine abuse running the IPL; Zimbabwe being run by a dictator who kills people, which have seen other countries kicked out cricket, but not them. Corruption is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and the wealthy are obviously never corrupt.

A-League Round 6 (finished)
Melbourne Victory 0 drew with Wellington Phoenix 0
A-League Round 7
Newcastle Jets 2 def Perth Glory 0
North Queensland Fury 0 drew with Melbourne Victory 0
Brisbane Roar 1 drew with Adelaide United 1
Melbourne Heart 2 def Wellington Phoenix 1
Gold Coast United 0 drew with Central Coast Mariners 0
            And one later on in the week.
Why bother?

Davis Cup
Australia v Belgium
Lleyton Hewitt def Ruben Bemelmans 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
Carsten Ball def by Olivier Rochus 4-6, 4-6, 6-7
Paul Hanley/Lleyton Hewitt def Ruben Bemelmans/ Olivier Rochus 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Peter Luczak def by Olivier Rochus 6-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7
Carsten Ball def by Steve Darcis 6-7, 3-6, 4-6
            Belgium were the team to defeat Australia in 2007, forcing them out of the world group. This tie was the chance for Australia to get back in. They failed. Belgium won 3-2 and Australia are to spend yet another year on the fringes of world tennis.

Sociology time! Australia has always been represented as being obsessed with sport. Most states have public holidays for horse races, and the highest rated shows on television are generally sporting events. Even our reality TV shows end up being competitions to the end. When it comes to the Olympics we consistently ‘punch above our weight’. Even sports that are not traditionally played by Australians tend to have the odd Aussie here and there showing up and doing things. Now, I guess the question is: why? Why is sport so important? Why do we feel the need to do so well?
            Most people say it is down to our egalitarian nature, where we act like all men are created equal. We tend to treat those in power like everyone else, and where is this more evident than on the sporting field? But it does go back further than that.
            As is often brought up, a lot of Australia was started as a penal colony, populated by convicts. (Though not all of Australia; my own home state of South Australia was a free colony from the word go.) They were people dumped by their home country – not only the convicts themselves but often the soldiers sent to guard them. A good example would be after Captain Bligh was set adrift from the Bounty, he was made a governor of New South Wales and was promptly dumped by a soldiers’ uprising known as the Rum Rebellion. More than that, it was a country which was so far from any other form of western civilisation that the people had to be self sufficient and strong.
            This strength became a part of the Australian character – if you were not strong you died. Simple. And yet we were always ruled from afar, from England, half a world away. This meant we felt completely left out of the world. And yet when England got into trouble, she sent a bunch of Australians into her wars where they were promptly massacred (see Gallipoli). We felt used and abused. We were too small to make a difference on the world stage and too far away to do anything anyway.
            There had to be a way Australians could vent their pent up frustrations and yet also utilise their strength. That was sport. We played sport harder than England, resulting in that first Ashes victory more than a hundred years ago. We wanted our sports tough, resulting in a version of football faster and more skilled than most others, involving all parts of the body, no off-side positions, harder tackling and no padding, or else favouring the more free flowing rugby league over union. Sports became our way out of the small colony we had been forced into, and it was something we could all as a country get behind. And you have to remember that Australia as a colonised country is only slightly more than two hundred years old; indigenous peoples lived here for forty thousand plus years before that, surviving off a sparse land successfully, showing that no matter what, to be Australian you had to be tough.
            So, really, what I’m saying is that Australia’s obsession with sport has come about because it’s all we’ve had. And we won’t let go without a damn good fight.

And that’s the View through to September 20.

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