Anorak | It’s Soft Down Under: Australians Ban Aggression In Sport

It’s Soft Down Under: Australians Ban Aggression In Sport

by | 21st, November 2013


THE Australian Olympic Committee has not hung up its woggles and decided they can no longer compete with the Poms, who scored 29 golds at the London Games to Australia’s 7 (a tally bettered by mighty Hungary and matched by sports mad Kazakhstan).

Once upon a time, the Aussies ruled the world at sports that very few countries play (cricket and rugby) or understand (Aussie rules football), as our Ed Barrett wrote.

They still love to beat the Poms, relishing the old humiliation over the English cricket team dragged over a long hot summer. But now even the  ritual slaughter of the Gabba accompanied of the sound of delirious, blood-crazed Aussie mobs is  thing of the past.

Why do they take such pleasure in thrashing us? It all comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding. Australians assume that we Brits feel the same way as they do about the Ashes and rugger. They see the ‘Barmy Army’ in full cry and assume that these lads are just the tip of a huge iceberg. They see full houses at Ashes Tests in England, and imagine that we really care. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For most of us, the men in baggy greens are little more than a curiosity, like the Harlem Globetrotters or the World’s Strongest Man. With the exception of a few thousand Asian kids in Bradford, virtually nobody in this country under the age of 40 is interested in watching cricket, let alone playing it. When Shane Warne one of the five greatest players of all time played for Hampshire, he was paid for a whole season what a top Premiership footballer would earn in a couple of weeks.

Australians, like Americans, tend to concentrate on the games that others avoid.

Australians can’t even master the basic pub games.

Rugby Union may be more popular than cricket, but it is a marginal recreation outside the southern hemisphere. Rugby League (or ‘football’ as the Australians insist on calling it) is an even more peripheral sport than Union in global terms.

Soccer in Australia, on the other hand, is largely restricted to immigrants, and decent players move to Europe in order to ply their trade. Australian boxers spend most of their time fighting kangaroos, and have consequently made no significant impact abroad. Their best-known pugilist is ‘Aussie Joe’ Bugner, the Hungarian-Brit who went to

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Posted: 21st, November 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink