Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Spectator sports should be put on hold

As news comes in the Adam Goodes is thinking about retiring sooner rather than later, it's time I think to consider what spectator sports are doing to us as a society. I know some of my friends will have different ideas than me, but I have to say my piece. This issue was brought home to me strongly this week when I saw the ABC program on Don Bradman, and heard his son talk about changing his name to escape the pressure put on him personally by fans of his father, and his granddaughter talk about her own psychological struggles which manifested in various ways.

The pressure to perform places on athletes, and the pressures put on those who are close to athletes, are something almost unconscionable, or at least something that can easily be regretted by a reasonable person.

Personally, it's easy for me to say these things because it's always been difficult for me to be a joiner. By nature I'm an individualist, and I always have been. This came back to me a couple of years ago when I was writing a poem about my romantic involvements. I found that I was having to talk about someone who prefers to be alone. Solitude has always been like a second nature to me, and any diversion from it has seemed like a cheat.

The debate surrounding Adam Goodes makes me think about spectator sport and what it means. Almost like a religion, spectator sport creates community, which is something that people mostly like. In fact even loners like to feel they belong, although they may not always admit it easily. What we look for is some sort of community, even if it is the community of rejection. By rejecting the mainstream we are not rejecting community itself, but rather we are asking others to take our conditions into account. We are discerning. We are something like an elite. Like elite athletes, we are personally accountable for our actions, but when it comes to sport it becomes harder and harder - the further up the tree you go - to match the demands of the discipline with the spectacle most people are comfortable with.

They are two different things. We don't need them as much as they need us. Or vice versa. 

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