Re­al­ity of more to life than sport

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

dom per­son singing Madonna’s Jus­tify My Love. We saw a mind-blow­ing two-storey high wa­ter sculp­ture, a weird ma­chine that was con­nected to the internet and spelt huge words made from wa­ter droplets based on real-time news searches on Google. We watched a gen­uinely un­set­tling short film called The Painter by the Amer­i­can per­for­mance artist Paul McCarthy, which was the clos­est thing to a per­fect ren­der­ing of a night­mare I have ever seen.

And be­cause this is a fam­ily news­pa­per, I will nei­ther de­scribe nor name the one piece of art I spent the af­ter­noon try­ing to avert my then 11-yearold son’s eyes from. Those of you who’ve been there will know what I am talk­ing about.

All of these are things you don’t find on the pages of the Foot­ball Record.

Af­ter such a bor­ing Satur­day and an ex­hil­a­rat­ing, min­d­ex­pand­ing Sun­day, I found my­self think­ing thoughts that prob­a­bly qual­ify me for im­me­di­ate de­por­ta­tion to a lesser na­tion that doesn’t watch a min­i­mum of 20 hours of sport a week.

Maybe sport isn’t just of­ten bor­ing. Maybe art is even bet­ter than sport?

There was great mirth last week­end when the Bris­bane Lions cheer squad un­furled their player ban­ner vow­ing that their team would kick the “win­nig” score. Back in round three it was Pies fans who were the sub­ject of ridicule af­ter their ban­ner promised that Carl­ton would go down “toni­hgt”. Rather than telling a spe­cific story about the al­leged stu­pid­ity of Lions and Magpies fans, I’d ar­gue that these ban­ners are gen­uine signs of the times in a more gen­eral sense, in that our un­healthy and ob­ses­sive re­la­tion­ship with sport has made us all a lit­tle bit dumber than we would oth­er­wise be.

Do the math, as the con­clu­sion is ir­re­sistible. By my own cal­cu­la­tions, I would spend at least 10 hours a week dur­ing win­ter watch­ing a com­bi­na­tion of AFL, my lo­cal footy league, and my son’s school team, cursed as it is to have me as coach. That’s about 200-220 hours a year. Over sum­mer you can throw in 25 days lost for Test Matches, or 15 days with pitch doc­tor­ing, so add an­other 80-odd hours to the an­nual tally. 300 hours equals 18,000 min­utes, which if you read a book at the rate of one page a minute equals 60, 300page books I have failed to read each year. And I won­der why I’m stupid.

Ed­die McGuire made the ter­rific ob­ser­va­tion re­cently about the psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror of be­ing a rusted-on sports fan, namely that “The highs are too low and the lows are too low.”

To that you could add the te­dious bits in the mid­dle are far too te­dious. There are signs that a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are now reach­ing this con­clu­sion, with AFL TV au­di­ences down 13.9 per cent year on year.

This could re­flect many things – con­ges­tion, nit-pick­ing rules, blow-outs, the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of the Carl­ton Foot­ball Club – but it may also re­flect the fact that some peo­ple have sim­ply con­cluded that there is more to life and maybe we have got the bal­ance wrong.

Through my in­volve­ment with school footy, I even won­der whether sport is now so all­con­sum­ing, be­tween the school team, the lo­cal club team, in­ter-school comps and zone teams, that it’s no longer a case of sport be­ing an ad­junct to school­ing, but the school­ing be­ing squeezed in around the sport.

To fin­ish with an artist not from MONA but the funny pages. Gary Lar­son’s car­toon of three cows in a pad­dock. One looks up and re­alises: “Hey, wait a minute! This is grass! We’ve been eat­ing grass!”

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