Olympics highlight the silliness of code wars
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Australian guard Patrick Mills celebrates at the end of the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 6, 2012 in London, England. Australia won 82-80. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON
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As the London 2012 Olympic Games came to an end, I found myself reflecting on what was a truly amazing spectacle. Heading into the Games, I was unsure what my level of interest would be.
I knew I’d be a keen follower of the basketball competitions, but found it difficult to gauge how enthralled I would be with all the other sports.
I need not have worried.
From the second the Opening Ceremony commenced, Olympic fever was running high throughout my body. The Games are such a unique event, and apart from the obvious patriotic motivation of watching a number of different events, there is also a major attraction in watching sports you don’t normally view.
It is this last point I’d like to focus on, because while basketball was always going to be the sport I watched the most of, it was never going to be the only sport. Which raises the traditional Roar topic of code wars.
Hands up if you only watched one sport during the Olympics?
Just as I thought, there seems to be a major lack of paws raised in the air.
It was once said that sport should be considered a smorgasbord, with fans able to pick and choose as many as they desire.
However, it seems that many believe that you should only be allowed to select one solitary ‘dish’; while also then feeling the need to defend that choice to the death, and deriding and mocking any other ‘dishes’.
This is a great analogy for the code war mentality that exists in Australia.
The Olympics are the ultimate example of how sport should really be consumed. Specifically:
• Lots of it
• Appreciating the many different types, even if you don’t fully understand them
• Appreciating the specific skill set and athleticism required
• Enjoying it – even if it is in moderation
You might not have loved every sport at the Olympics, but I’m also positive you found yourself enjoying one that you either hadn’t previously, or hadn’t for a significant period of time.
That’s one of the many beauties of the Olympics: the exposure it gives fans to sports outside of the ones they normally watch.
As an example, I’m not a massive cycling fan, but I love the cat-and-mouse games of the individual sprint. I don’t completely understand the tactics, but I do realise that there is a distinct strategy in play – in terms of when to make your move – and fully appreciate the execution of that strategy.
It’s thrilling, it’s skilful and it’s intelligent. As a sports fan, it’s fantastic.
Does that mean I’ll watch it every weekend? No, of course not. But just because it hasn’t become my number one sport, doesn’t mean I should be derisive of it either.
Nor should I be derisive towards sports I don’t even like, or will fail to ever really warm to. For when it comes to sports, I believe never a truer word has been spoken than ‘to each their own.’
It’s fun to have playful arguments about sport. That’s an ingrained part of Australian culture: having a beer at the pub, and debating sport topics with your mates.
However, when it descends into nonsensical gibberish about which sport is the best, and involves stubbornly refusing to move from your point of view, the fun and intelligence of said conversation dissipates rapidly.
That normally signifies the commencement of a code war, of which the Olympics have highlighted just how silly they really are.
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network and NBA Down Under, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.