Sunday, 1 June 2014

Run for Australia

I have been recently commissioned for a guest post by an illustrious (yet private) international blog dealing with all matters of running. Because sharing is caring, here is the post I wrote. It does not have much to do with running, but then again - neither do I.

Having recently been handed the voluntary task of coming up with a guest post on this famous sports blog, I found myself startled. I was hit at a soft spot: Me? Sports? What shall I talk about, the exercise my thumbs and index finger receive playing Mass Effect? Or should I dedicate thoughts to the physical punishment involved in the extreme swiping gestures that come with reading articles on an iPad? 
But then the inspirational words of sports legend Emil Zátopek rang in my head: "I prd v obecném směru! Tvoje matka byla křeček a tvůj otec cítit bezinek!”
Well, he was Czech, but he was also a long distance runner. He ran the distance. And so can I. 

Australia is famous for being a sports addicted nation. I guess it's only natural: given the lack of natural enemies, at least with the exception of stray baby loving dingos, one has to work hard to find a target for releasing one's steam on. What better, easier, target could there be than The Other Team™? 
Obviously, The Other Team™ is a rather arbitrary concept. Sports proved a major factor in Australia's teenage rebellion against the tyrannical English headmaster it had spawned from. Even today, there is no better way to define the spirit of Australia than its hatred towards the British in sports, particularly cricket and rugby. Where would we be without the English to beat? What would we see if we were to look ourselves in the mirror without the Poms to target our aggressions at? And while at it: why do we hate England so much in sports, but still accept an English person that happened to be born to certain parents as our head of state? Don't ever say that Australians make sense. 
If the unimaginable lengths of Australians’ illogical handling of sports is what you're after, you do not need to venture further than your average shopping mall's parking lot. There you will witness an obscure yet repeatedly verifiable phenomenon: those same Aussies that just finished their gruelling triathlon, the ones who were at the peak of the Everest just five minutes ago, are now desperately seeking a parking space near the entry. They will do everything for that magical parking spot: they will crawl behind pedestrians walking back to their parked cars, they will block the parking lot altogether as they wait for a car that might leave in five minutes, or they will simply wander around aimlessly in search of that invisible parking space that's surely there. What they will not do, never and under any circumstances, is drive a hundred or two meters further down to where there's parking aplenty. No, that would be totally UnAustralian of them. 

So there you go: even in Australia, sports don't make sense. That is exactly why I choose not to practice it. That, or me being lazy.
But who said I need to make sense? If it's rationality you're after, talk to Mr Zátopek.

Image by Duncan Yoyos, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence


The Philippines Expat said...

Hey, cool post. Just thought I'd comment as I noticed you mention the rivalry between Australia and England in sports - presumably New Zealand and South Africa are also big rivals for you guys as well?

Or do you think England are your biggest rivals due to the 'tyrannical' nature of their past relationship with your country?

Moshe Reuveni said...

A very good question.
First, England is not "my" biggest rival, it's the rival of those who take sports seriously. I enjoy my sports, but I don't go insane over it.
Second, while there are rivalries with other respected opponents - New Zealand in rugby (and everything they'd compete against Australia in), South Africa in rugby, India in cricket - these tend to be respected rivalries. England is different: Australians just hate England in everything that relates to sports.
The reason is well documented. Upon establishment, around a hundred years ago, Australia "fought" hard to differentiate itself from England. Its main ticket there was sports, hence all the commotion around The Ashes cricket tournament. It's even part of the study material for becoming an Australian citizen.
The point I was trying to make with my post is that with all this rivalry, Australia is still silly enough to have the English monarch as its first citizen. I get the sports rivalry, and I get the antagonism towards the old fatherland in sports; but I certainly don't get the monarchy love affair. Actually, I do get it: in a society with people afraid of the foreigner around them, the monarchy represents a way for the Christian Anglo Saxon majority of Australian to feel that this is still "their" land.