Monday will be a day of rest, and then on Tuesday the Great Australian Revolving Door of sport will continue the perpetual spinning, and people will undoubtedly start talking about cricket.
I grew up in a sports-crazy family. And I don’t just mean that everyone in the family liked sports, they loved sports – my mother, most of all. I was exposed to a lifetime enough of sport from the day I was born through to the day I moved out, aged 18, and I have little to no interest in it. Yes, anyone could look at my … ample … frame and suggest that I probably should take at least some passing interest in sport, but I’d likely sit on them as punishment. And it would be hypocritical of them to do so anyway; I’d estimate a significant number of sports lovers of Australia are considerably larger than me.
Truth be told, I don’t give a rats arse how much sport is played in Australia. If people find sport an enjoyable pass-time, who am I to argue, given the things that I find enjoyable? My beef with sport, however, is two-fold:
- Australia’s obsession with sport takes it to narcissistic levels that are unwholesome. There is a strong expectation amongst many, for instance, that Australia should win at any sport it endeavours in. We are, quite frankly, a nation of bad losers. Any international event – particularly those where Australia does have a history of excellence in (e.g., cricket) is approached with a feverish attitude of entitlement.
- The collective time and money allocated towards sport in this country is unbalanced. For instance, Crikey suggests Australia spends $40 million PER gold medal earned in the Olympics. Forty. Million. Dollars.
If those sorts of numbers are accurate (and to be honest, there’s no reason to expect they aren’t, given the levels of sporting funding in Australia), they should be seen as a national disgrace. One gold medal, comparatively, could oversee finding accommodation and providing food for a large number of homeless people. Or be put towards medical research. Or sustainable energy research. Or any number of other things that are arguably far more important to this country’s long-term growth than sport.
I’m not saying that all sports funding should be cut. Much as, at times, I’m loathe to admit it, sport in Australia is a part of our cultural heritage. But that part of our cultural heritage needs to have a reality check, and brought back down to sensible levels. If one tree grows so large in a forest that its branches and leaves cover all the other trees, they eventually sicken and die.
That sporting tree is getting pretty damn big.
So, as the great Australian revolving door of sport swings around from winter (AFL/NRL) to summer (cricket), it would be nice if people would stop for a moment and think of the true cost of Australian sport.
Despite what some would say, this isn’t healthy.