It’s More than a Game

By Geisha Bar

At a family dinner last night we were riveted to the plasma screen for the Brownlow medal count and I found myself pondering the inherent value of football to Australian culture. A famous historian Xavier Herbert once said that “Australians never looked into our own interior o find ourselves, or never long enough, or in enough numbers to make it really matter culturally or politically. Instead we slip from one imported notion of self to the next when our own stories are far more revealing.” In this context Football becomes important because it is a uniquely Australian game in every sense.

Aussie Rules is a team game that allows for individual excellence. A game that allows for players of all shapes and sizes. A game of both brute force and enormous finesse. A classless game that crosses all social boundaries. It doesn’t have the old school ties of Rugby Union, the ethnic exclusions of Soccer or the celebrated working heritage of Rugby League. It is uniquely egalitarian and absolutely Australian.

More than anything else Football is a life raft and a showcase for Aboriginal Australians. Football sees them consistently singled out for all the right reasons. The aboriginal players are revered by white Australians. They are not considered as equals….they are considered as superior. What a wonderful foundation to anchor the Aboriginal culture and attain true acceptance in the wider community.

This weekend the grand final teams are peppered on both sides with amazing talent from Rioli and Franklin to Michael Johnson and Steven Hill being just the tip a very sharp sword. They will be watched and revered around the world this weekend.

Whilst Gary Ablett (congratulations to the superstar) winning and giving one of the most humbling speeches I have ever heard was a great finale to the event, the “hi-lo-light” is always the red carpet and the cringe worthy interviews. Watching this reminded me of one of my favourite moments, a decade ago now from the 2003 Brownlow medal.

In a sea of blonde babes with Dow Corning breasts one lady stood out. Adam Goodes had bought his mum from country South Australia as his date. A lovely chunky aboriginal lady she put the starlets to shame with her Sunday frock. The pure joy and pride her son’s achievement gave her left a warm glow in my heart which still makes me smile when I see the plastic fantastics every year.