1. Here is a picture of the effect that I have on the world, even if it is only in my back garden. I don’t know what it is, but my presence just seems to cause flowers to blossom and cover barbed wire. I seem to have a peaceful and harmonising effect on those around me…
2. And then, ‘Sorry Day’ in Australia. An important day in the country’s history. I cycled to work on that day, aware that school-children all over the country were taken out of class to watch the apology on television. Near my work I saw this flag flying to mark the day.
And near it, the ancient corroboree tree of the Kulin nation.
I felt kind-of honoured to be here to see the day and spy some signs of Australian history, past and present.
Now, 3. here is a view from my local schoolyard and my local park on any given day.
Kids jinking and dodging, bouncing that ball as they run, handballing and kicking. I thought it a brilliant picture of how we acculturate the next generation of Victorians. I wondered if they learned different things from kids who grow up playing Rugby, or Grid Iron. The thing about Aussie Rules is that it is hugely athletic, and all the running and jumping on that great big oval on the hard grounds builds big, athletic tough bodies. And I guess you learn a bit about niggle, and ‘biffo’ playing that game as you grow up.
I had talked to some kids and their granny in the US about a recent Grid Iron training camp for 12-year-olds. The kid was a defensive line-backer or tight-end or something. They said that it was all very technical: where to grab, where to put your weight, how to keep your studs in-line, where to put your head… I guess if nothing else those kids would learn discipline. That game is very much about sticking to the game-plan. Not much scope for initiative. And of course, you’d learn "How to bring your ‘A game’," and Americanisms like that. Possibly also what it’s like to be squashed by a fat-boy.
And so to Rugby. What does a kiwi boy learn growing up playing Rugby? Well, it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s muddy. You sustain bruises at the bottom of the ruck. And if you complain then your father gives you a clip round the ear for being an embarrassing wuss. You also learn that even some private schoolboys can be sadists who just like hurting people, and will go out of their way to sprig the back of a stray hand sticking out of the wrong side of a ruck. There’s a good deal of thuggery. But it is a very team-oriented game, and woe betide the boy who hangs onto the ball when he should have passed. in that game, the team will always beat the brilliant individual.
For me the buzz was that decision-making at pace, under pressure; when to pass, when to kick, when to step.
it is clear that there are some cultural differences, especially in the US. How much of it can be tied back to the sports that we play growing up? Not that much really I guess.
But I think I’m onto something with the AFL/ Aussie/ althletic/ assertive/ run-into-open-space linkage. Dunno about the other ones. Any comment from armchair anthropologists out there?