Here is my father

A writers festival on the New South Wales central coast is probably the closest you can come to watching the AFL Grand Final in a vacuum. There were expat bars in every country in the world displaying more interest than the entire city of Newcastle. The only venue even playing it was the RSL, with the sound down in favour of horse races.

Fortunate to be bunked with the only other Cat fan in town, we eventually ran back to our accommodation in time for the bounce, and at least had one kindred soul to share the shouting. We met the festival’s Saturday night swelling with joy, and no place to direct it. Whenever Geir mentioned football to someone, the response was, “I have to pee.”

In Melbourne, you can feel the Grand Final in the air. The build-up lasts all week. Not just the media glut, but a kind of nervous energy. Scarves sprouting out of cars like some strange acrylic rash. Spring air crackling like power lines, leaves hustling up the cold streets.

It’s that ubiquity that makes the anti-fans apoplectic. Grand Final week is when they most shrilly voice their fierce disdain of our gladiatorial obsession and mouth-breathing tendencies. Seeing so many people enjoying themselves in a way you can’t comprehend must be like going to an ice-cream convention after your tongue was shot off in the war.

You can’t explain the love of sport, just as other devotees can’t explain Nureyev or heavy metal or crossbow hunting. It either speaks to you or it never will. Perhaps you’re born into it. I was certainly born into supporting Geelong. Dad did, and I thought he was the greatest human on earth. Not much has changed.

Read on at Crikey.

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3 Responses to Here is my father

  1. Jye says:

    whoa!! Say what you will about Newcastle but we are NOT on the Central Coast.. wash your mouth out. Also, there are a few AFL friendly pubs out in the burbs. Go Swans in 2012.

  2. JKT says:

    I don’t know about equating the devotion to one particular franchise to a love of sport. I think you could argue the opposite. Being so in love with one particular team could lead to underappreciating the true sporting prowess of opposition teams or games, codes, sports not played by ones beloved.

  3. Liam says:

    Sport is the opium of the masses, however I’d probably prefer the opium.

    To be honest, for the last 15 years or so I use an analogy to explain my apathy of football in all its forms. “Football is like sex.” I say. “If someone I liked invited me out to the park for a kick, I’d say yes. But I wouldn’t pay money to see someone play.”

    That also explains why all my porn is illegally downloaded.

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