If you choose to live in Melbourne, Australia, you will be living in the most liveable city. So they tell us in their logo.
What they don’t tell you is that this city is a sportocracy. You had better watch sport, breathe sport, and follow your favourite team or else. If you actually confess like the witches of Salem might have done that you don’t care, you will be shunned or drawn and quartered. Or even thrown down a well to see if you sink.
All this and worse will happen to you because you will be accused of being an heretic. In summer you will have to talk cricket and horse racing. In winter it’s the good old football and heaven help you if Monday morning comes, as it does after Saturday and Sunday, and you are not prepared to discuss the scores.
Now you would imagine that the followers of football and other games are athletic. You might imagine that they partake of exercise now and then. Maybe on their birthdays perhaps. But no, that is not the case for the majority of fans. Their athletic prowess consists of painting their faces in the team colours and then carting food to the matches where they will hoot and chant in support of “their team.”
So it’s really nothing to do with sport and everything to do with belonging. These fans want to belong to a tribe of supporters of a certain group of gladiators, say. They want to be in on something that will make them feel as if life is not so dreary.
And there’s nothing very wrong with that except that in Melbourne you will be given the results of the sporting match before you hear of any other news.
For those of us who really, honestly don’t give a hoot about this tribalism, things can get pretty tedious.
I am now aware that there is drug cheating going on in football. Now there’s a surprise! I am aware of someone called Andrew Demetriou whose name is mentioned more often than our publicity-seeking Prime Minister’s. No mean feat I tell you if you are familiar with Kevin Rudd.
What I am truly surprised about is that there is surprise at all?
After all, sports is about big business, big money, brief careers during which you have to earn as much money as you can because in a few years’ time you will be forgotten.
So why not do everything to achieve success for yourself and your team?
Do we honestly believe that people will stop cheating in this world of supplements and sophisticated sports medicine?
You can’t stem the tide now even if you have a thousand inquires into cheating etc.
But if it’s a circus you want then by all means follow sport. It’s just another religion.
And anyway, it’s safer than holding demonstrations in some square or other, I guess.