Although i believe that football and feminism can co-exist in my life, i never would have imagined that going to the Anzac Day AFL match between essendon and collingwood could be a political experience*.
The day started with a series of ceremonies commemorating the battle of gallipoli and, whilst most of them were full of schmaltz (and thereby undermining them), there is a moment each year when almost 100 , 000 people stand, silent, and pay respects to the sacrifice those soldiers made for the sake of others**. When the last post and call is played, and i’m standing there-one amongst many- it feels like one of the most solemn acts i have ever done as a citizen. (now if only we could lord the jingoism and have all our acts of commemoration as simple and meaningful as that.)
then, the game starts and i swear it’s on for young and old. I yell, scream, take the piss out of both teams and supporters. And at the end, after a good game and (thankfully) my team winning – in the last 2 minutes, there was much communal singing, dancing, high-fives with strangers, pats on the back. a sense of jubilation in a crowd. not to mention the common experience of getting absolutely drenched..
i can see why football (and other sports) are so popular here. we’ve lost the ability to have public ceremony and/or commemoration. we can only seem to find one way to get together and express a collective feeling – whether that be joy, sorry, anger, frustration, etc.
personally, i don’t think we’re trying hard enough. as a nation, we’re still acting like 14-year old adolescents who smirk at the faintest idea of public emotion. but, i’m expecting that things will change soon. well, at least i’m hoping that’s the case. i’m hoping that the natural growth of a country, through life experience and the rhythm of change, will gradually learn to use our collective brain, which will be equally connected to our heart and soul, as one of many.
*and when i say political, i mean as citizen, of the public, participating-in-the-polis kind of way, not just the whinge-about-the-government kind of way.
** there seems to be all this blah blah about them “fighting for and/or defending our country“, but given that the ANZACs were pretty much pawns for the British Army, perhaps we can change our perspective on things and embrace our inner patsy. We could value the sacrifice for the common good – they’d be pretty good values. Better than ‘i fkn live here’-tattoo-wearing-type-nationalism, surely.