This week many football fans will be scrambling for access to much sought after tickets to the AFL Grand Final. According to fans, AFL is the most popular sport in Australia followed by rugby union.
Australia’s love of sport goes back more than 150 years when the first football, rugby and cricket clubs were created the 1870s. Since then sport has been embedded in the Australian culture. A culture built upon shared values, stories and rituals.
The venue is everything to an Australian sporting event as it is also a place where people can connect and socialise. The grand final will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and resonates a powerful feeling amongst fans sitting in the stands to cheer on their teams like the Romans did watching a gladiator battle.
It is a game where friends, family and strangers come together with a shared passion. Even rivals will congratulate each other when one team beats another. Sport brings the community together with a sense of shared identity and strengthens their bond. They identify with not only their team, but other fans and a feeling of belonging.
The momentum continues off the field and makes its way into the workplace where colleagues put in their footy tips each week. Then on a Monday after the games are over, they gather around the water cooler to share banter about whose team did the best. Sport creates an environment for collaboration and the breakdown of workplace silos.
When it comes to values, Australians look for honesty in their sporting heroes and turn away from those whom display bad behaviours. They admire their sporting legends’ success and encourage the success of their next rising star.
Whether Australians watch or participate in sport, it boosts their self esteem and national pride. Sport is open to people of all ages, class, gender, race and background. It breaks down barriers between social classes, prejudice and celebrates diversity
As a result, when barriers are broken down on the playing field, it translates to life off the field where everyone can live, work and play together with national pride and morale. All of which is associated with Australia’s obsession with sport.
Pictures courtesy of Google Clip Art Gallery