The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - JANE FRASER

WHAT does bipo­lar mean? I have this men­tal pic­ture of two po­lar bears sit­ting inside your brain, squab­bling and snarling at each other un­til they even­tu­ally send you ed­dy­ing down the be­havioural sink. I’m prob­a­bly wrong, but it also oc­curs to me that if you can claim to be bipo­lar, you can do ex­actly what you like with im­punity: ‘‘ I killed my mother but I couldn’t help it be­cause I am bipo­lar, it’s in my genes.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the nay- say­ers, genes are the scape­goat for all sorts of weird and won­der­ful things, in­clud­ing be­liev­ing in God. If you press a small but­ton in your brain, ap­par­ently, you’ll al­most im­me­di­ately fall on your knees and wor­ship, but push an­other but­ton and God will be zapped.

Maybe there’s also a ge­netic el­e­ment to sport: there are those who thrive on it ei­ther by play­ing or, as the years take their toll, watch­ing it. And then there are those who scorn games of any de­scrip­tion and re­gard them­selves as in­tel­lec­tu­ally su­pe­rior to men and women rough- hous­ing around a field with a ball.

Sport can make a huge dif­fer­ence to the lives of the un­der­priv­i­leged. If you come from Africa, for ex­am­ple, and you can run fast, or kick a ball well, there is a chance you can es­cape the poverty and mis­ery fac­ing you. Think of the Tan­za­nian marathon run­ners and other African sports­men, es­pe­cially soc­cer play­ers. It’s also an ice- breaker: savvy peo­ple help­ing young Su­danese mi­grants settle in a vastly dif­fer­ent land have found that or­gan­ised foot­ball games are a huge suc­cess in break­ing down race, re­li­gious and cul­tural bar­ri­ers.

But you do have to draw the line some­where. I, for one, would ban box­ing, prob­a­bly be­cause of a child­hood trauma. When my mother was out play­ing ten­nis, golf, skit­tles or wa­ter polo, my brothers earned a small for­tune by putting a no­tice on our front gate say­ing: ‘‘ Come and box our sis­ter for six­pence.’’

You have to won­der why the Chi­nese have taken to ping- pong like fish to wa­ter, and beach vol­ley­ball leaves me cold. Bas­ket­ball, too, for that mat­ter, and I wouldn’t cross the road for a chicken fight.

Those who have no truck with sport would be to­tally obliv­i­ous to the cur­rent out­break of hos­til­ity be­tween Wal­laby and Spring­bok sup­port­ers. The lat­ter are think­ing of tak­ing them­selves out of the Su­per 14 and play­ing in the north­ern hemi­sphere, mainly be­cause they’re in the same time zone as Eng­land, and they’ve been blam­ing jet- lag for their unin­spir­ing per­for­mance.

A South African friend, clearly stung that we beat them a cou­ple of weeks ago, wrote this week that he found the in­sult­ing be­hav­iour of our Tri- Na­tions play­ers to­wards the Man­dela Tro­phy — ‘‘ which they won by sneak­ing home against our B team’’ — sick­en­ing.

‘‘ Per­haps the prob­lem with the Aussies is that they have never pro­duced any truly great peo­ple. Maybe Ni­cole Kid­man.’’

Mur­der springs to mind, He should have his head ex­am­ined.

fraserj@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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