Finding our feet during the sporting lows

Vas Venkatramani Roar Rookie

By Vas Venkatramani, Vas Venkatramani is a Roar Rookie

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    Winners are grinners, so the saying goes. It definitely has merit when you compare Australia’s sporting success from the 90s to the noughties. Something has changed in our sporting culture.

    Gone are the days when highs were met with a wry smile and dry joke with a beer, and when lows were stopped only at disappointment.

    In short, we have become a nation of sporting whingers.

    As fans, our expectations has changed. Regrettably, the iconic underdog identity we have lovingly called our own has now been replaced with the idea that sporting success is our birthright.

    Don’t believe me? Consider the 2010 evidence.

    An underperforming cricket team, a Socceroos outfit getting smashed 4-0 by a footballing superpower, an Australian rugby league side getting exposed by an industrious New Zealand, the Wallabies being the All Blacks’ perennial whipping boys (save for a memorable night in Hong Kong), and finally, a nation’s collective outrage when it wasn’t chosen to host football’s showpiece, which at times descended to racial vilification.

    What was the common theme in all of these instances? Fans jumping onto media outlets to vent their agony, frustration and outrage over the wrongness of it all.

    “Why aren’t we winning?”, “Selectors are rubbish” and “Player A or B should be sacked”, says the armchair experts who for the majority are elbow deep in empty beer cans while punching these sentiments onto their computer screen or their mobile phone.

    Yes, compared to the hundreds of athletes giving their all to achieve success, we’re the victims. Poor us.

    This sort of vindictive reaction is common in other countries, where different sports are viewed as cultural property rather than a competition where anyone can win on their day.

    Australia is fast becoming that way, if not already. Should we be looking at sporting success as an entitlement or something we should work for? When I say work for, as fans, it means celebrating during the good, consoling during the bad, and being steadfast supporters throughout.

    Our model is the Barmy Army, currently enjoying their team’s success. Only the most close-minded Australian would begrudge them that.

    So, my New Year’s sporting resolution has to do with how I support my teams.

    For the cricket, I’m preparing for Australia to be swept aside from Sunday in Sydney, get knocked in the group stage of the World Cup, and roam from one disaster to another.

    In the rugby, I’m preparing for another year of Tri Nations and Bledisloe pain, before New Zealand or another country destroys our World Cup dream.

    In the league, the Sharks will again be miserable, as will NSW, while Australia will be tested by passionate New Zealanders and Englishmen.

    In the football, the Socceroos may lost to India in this month’s Asian Cup, which at that time Liverpool may be in relegation trouble.

    It isn’t hard. In sport, there are winners and losers. If we’re going to lose, doing it with a bit of dignity isn’t a big ask. It’s just a game.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • Roar Guru

      January 2nd 2011 @ 8:46am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | January 2nd 2011 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Fantastic column, Vas!

      In particular, I totally agree with your observations that: “… we have become a nation of sporting whingers” and, later “…(we have become a nation of) armchair experts who for the majority are elbow deep in empty beer cans”.

      I have no explanation for the former observation, but, in my opinion, the latter observation can be traced back to the fact that the majority of Aussies – not all, but the majority – don’t actually understand most sports, other than the one they may have played as a youngster.

      Most Aussies simply watch lots of sport because it’s the “thing to do” – the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne is the extreme example – and they feel they are qualified to comment about technical performances, interpretation of the Laws, and analysis of tactical issues even though, they have no understanding of, or appreciation for, the particular sport.

      This leads to unrealistic expectations of what should be the outcome of contests and ill-informed analysis of performances.

      And, in my opinion, sports journalists in the Australian print media are no different. In general, they are simply not qualified to comment about more than one or two sports and, when they try to comment about any sport that is not their preferred choice, they, too, are just as unrealistic in their expectations and ill-informed in their analysis of performances.

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