Some bad sportsmanship

It's been a tough month not to be obsessed with sport. Not that I don't occasionally partake in watching a bunch of sweaty men on a paddock doing unnatural things to a ball - but this last month has been bordering on the ridiculous. As a lot of people know, Australia is rather sports-crazed, and lately there's been a major event almost every day. In fact our waning Prime Minister, who is constitutionally required to call an election any day now, has publicly stated that he's too busy watching sport to even contemplate such a move. Here's just a taste of what's been going on lately in the wonderful world of sport, at least from an Australian perspective (to all those Americans in the audience you won't know about any of these, but bear with me, we'll get to you soon!): Twenty20 cricket world cup, women's soccer world cup, Australian Football League grand final, National Rugby League grand final, Bathurst 1000 supercars and the Rugby world cup.

Perhaps my sensitivity to the quantity and cultural significance of sport at the moment has been magnified after having lived in the United States for these past few years, where things are very different. Now don't get me wrong, I am well aware that there are lots of Americans ranging from interested to obsessed with sport (or "sports" as they would say). But the big difference is that, unlike in Australia, you can avoid it if you want to. For any event smaller than the Olympics, you could live as rich and fulfilling life as you wanted without any inkling of what was happening on that mystical paddock.

The best explanation I can offer is that American sports are all rubbish. Actually this also perfectly explains why no other country bothers to partake in them. The biggest problem is that, with the notable exception of ice hockey, American sports all involve stopping play every 2 minutes for a commercial break. Beyond that, each sport offers its own set of quirks. Their version of football has a promising enough set of rules, but the fact that the players apparently each have only one skill, requiring entire teams to be swapped out every time the ball moves, makes the viewing experience more like watching chess (except the players are wearing outfits that would get you beaten up in any other country). Their car racing involves going round and round a velodrome with no corners or hills. And before you counter with the fact that a game of baseball doesn't take as long as a cricket test, at least cricket ends up with a total higher than the 2 runs I saw in my first live baseball experience.

But enough of this bashing (it is, I accept, far from sporting!). While sport is unavoidable in Australia, fortunately for me at least it's not a religion (well, not unless you go to Melbourne). The most sport-crazed place I've ever been is New Zealand. And unlike Australia, where the list of sports and codes is insanely complex (try four different football codes divided by geography and season), in New Zealand they have one religion and It is Rugby. So imagine the reaction in this country when they got knocked out of the world cup, as they did last weekend (and yes, for the record, Australia also got knocked out!). Actually unless you've been there, I promise you can't imagine it. It so happens I was in New Zealand 8 years ago, right after they were knocked out then too (and, for the record, Australia won that year :-). As an outsider, even from a place like Australia, it was truly bizarre. To give you an idea of how much of a blow this is to New Zealand, imagine how an American feels when their country loses a war, or a European feels when their country gets zero points in the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, it's that bad.

This is about the time I should get to the point of my story, but I have to admit that I don't have one. But if I've been able to distract and entertain you for just a little while, even in a pursuit that is ultimately pointless, at least I've stayed within the spirit of the topic.

Comments (8)
  1. Gareth says:

    I feel for the All Blacks, but for Aus to lose to us POMs – oh that has to hurt (even if you dont admit it 🙂 ). I can see the Aussies saying it was a fluke, but we all know the history… Needless to say the Brits are very happy (almost to the point where this game was their final). I know gloating is bad sportsmanship, but to lose to the POMs….

    Wow that has to sting… twice as much as previously

    Oh I would almost say the Southern Hemisphere (SH) is in shock. Can you imagine if Australia had won and NZ lost (or other way around) the ribbing the losing county would would get from its friendly neighbo(u)r. Now neither can gloat at each other because of the unexpected results. Its going to be interesting  to watch the SH news, I suspect there will be huge fallout after this weekend 🙂

    Finally while this has little to do with technical work, it has certainly made the whole of England and France a happier place for at least one week. Then one of them will remain happy for at least another week.

    Remember keep smiling – its only a game 😀

    PS I notice you are brave dis’ing the US sports when in another continent 🙂 Too funny!

  2. Kiwi says:

    I must say the Aussie are sow losers & you confirm that loud & clear.  Have you heard the saying "people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones" well the Aussies got done twice in the world cup by the POMs.  This time the POMs themselves confirmed that they weren’t playing like winners.  I think the reason Kiwis lost is they were so disappointed that they weren’t going to be able to thump the Aussies in the Semis that they lost their game to France.  Your fault we lost!!

  3. Olaf says:

    I’d probably do as your parents did; escape the madness and spend some time in a SANE country. Thank god we don’t have sportbars here (or atleast none I know of).

    Wisdom comes with age 😉

  4. Kiwi – I accept complete responsibility for the All Blacks’ loss. I also apologise for being such a sow (?) loser.

  5. snkscore says:

    What about basketball and volleyball?  We invented those and I don’t think they are rubbish.

    We also have a professional soccer (football) league.  They aren’t at the EPL level for sure, but our teams are competing pretty well with the top Mexican league teams, and my local club played Celtic to a draw recently.

    Football (American) does have way to many timeout and stops.  I set it recording on my DVR and pickup about 1:15 or 1:30 after it started to skip all the junk and just watch the plays.

    Baseball is boring.  I’ll agree.

  6. Garry Trinder says:

    How about we celebrate intellect just a fraction of the amount that we celebrate a bunch of people passing a ball around?


  7. Carl says:

    I think that the only reason that we Brits even enter the Eurovision Song Contest is so that we have something other than politics and Iraq to talk about on the news.

    Although, I guess that even the song contest is just a glorified political contest!

  8. The costumes are definitely better than what you see in "regular" politics 🙂

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