Australia’s code wars took a turn for the worse this week with the furore over a ‘joke’ coined by a comedian with a penchant for Aussie rules.
The ensuing row was as predictable as a Tim Cahill goal celebration.
There was outrage and then a backlash against such outrage, claiming that you can’t say anything these days though why anyone would want to say anything like that at a time like this boggles the mind.
But aren’t people getting sick of the inter-sport squabbles? Perhaps things have gone too far when there are those who see a plane crash involving a team from a rival sport as an occasion to try and make a joke referencing negative stereotypes.
In a year that has seen the growing popularity of divisive forces throughout the world, is it too twee to ask if we can’t all get along?
At least we can agree to disagree.
There are obviously issues that annoy some fans of some sports about other sports.
AFL fans have a point (though not in the form of jokes about the recently deceased) in that there is too much play-acting in football and there can be a certain smugness in the fact that football fans trumpet the international aspect of their game as opposed to the perceived parochialism of AFL and others.
Football fans have a point when it comes to how much of the mainstream media has double standards when it reports on anti-social behaviour of spectators. Other sports in the country have an embedded media advantage that is tough to shift.
As a football writer, my bias moves towards football and I have sympathy for fans down under.
I remember, many years ago, having a beer in a Kyoto bar, wearing a Johan Cruyff t-shirt. I was told by a passing Aussie that he was tired of people telling him what he could call football and what he could not.
It seemed strange to me. Why would I care what someone else called the game and why would he care what I did?
Perhaps it is time for a reset in relations? Surely most people like numerous sports. It would be strange to like one sport and then eschew all others.
In musical terms, it would be similar too liking one group and one group alone. You can dig the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And if you like one and not the other, it is just one of those things. People have different tastes.
Personally, I like cricket but (apart from my time in India many years ago) have lived in Asian countries that are not into the game. It is easy to lose touch. I don’t mind rugby and have never really had the chance to watch AFL.
Australia should celebrate its sporting culture which is strong and vibrant. I loved watching the Big Bash on television when I was down under for the 2015 Asian Cup and it was great to visit the MCG.
There are four major team sports vying for the nation’s affections – and then the usual tennis, golf, Formula One etc – and they each have their own strengths, weaknesses, histories and cultures.
It could be like England where there is one game so dominant that it pushes other sports aside. The Aussie system is healthier and more diverse even if it can be a frustrating experience at times for football fans.
There are always going to be issues but there is surely more that unites than divides. It’s time for to cease fire and ire.