Tuesday, 3 February 2015

53. Sport

Hi. I am Greg and I want to grumble about sport.

My grumble is not that it is the opium of the masses. It is, but we should not blame the medication for the disease. And I admit, I like most sport, despite finding much of the TV commentary fairly obnoxious. In fact, I am always glad for week 2 of the Australian Open tennis when all the Australians are out and the tennis can take centre stage.

And on the subject of nationalism, there was the Asian Cup. A brilliant dramatic final with Australia becoming the Asian champions of a sport we still struggle to call football. It is football all over the world, but like the Americans, we self-reference and pretend our parochial games are somehow international when we can find one or two other countries that play them.

I grew up playing soccer football when it was called “wog-ball” and only nerds played – a generation before a Samoan Australian called Cahill was the toast of the town, and blokes called Luongo and Triosi delivered an Asian Cup. But amid the nationalistic celebrations (which at least highlight our migrant heritage), did anyone remember that the Australian women’s team won the Asian Cup in 2010, the country’s first piece of soccer silverware?

But my current sports passion is bike riding and I love the festival of cycling that is the Tour Down Under. It was a great week in Adelaide, apart from Channel 9 getting out the cheque book out to buy the TV rights so that they could show the race highlights at 11pm.

Of course it was the public broadcaster, SBS, that built the audience to make it worthwhile for the commercial parasite to grab the rights, but we are used to that. Our hospital system works on the same principle with the public system doing the teaching and complex procedures, while the private hospitals skim the profitable bits.

But back on sport – I played soccer at a school that was dominated by rugby league and rode a bike a long time before lycra hit the cafĂ© strip. So, I am glad the country has caught up – and it leads me to cheer all the weekend plodders who play whatever unfashionable sports they like.

But then I pick up a newspaper and see sport defined as elite, narrow and usually macho.

I am Greg, and when I am not bike riding, I am grumbling.

This Grumble can be heard online or by podcast.
First Broadcast: 3 February 2015