In a time of ubiquitous technology, which too often leads to passive consumption and even isolation, the importance of active participation in society should be recognised and emphasised.
Yes, Aussie rules football is not the only activity that stimulates community, but it is one of our most important. After all, games are an expression of the people who play them and given that Aussie rules is our game, it’s therefore an expression of us.
If myself and maybe two or three other people died in our sleep the club wouldn’t exist the following morning … my local club needs me.
When it was first played in the 1850s it was deliberately different to the football codes played in Sydney. There was no offside rule; it was less structured and more chaotic.
Historian Richard Cashman once noted that the game’s rules were an expression of Victoria’s “brash self-confidence” and “larrikinism”, while fellow historian Bill Murray noted that the game maintained a greater degree of spontaneity than most other football codes.
But perhaps more important is the role it plays at the grassroots level, where locals are immortalised by their feats on the field and contribution off it. As author Trevor Grant once put it, “For some it would be where their ashes would be scattered.”
This is true of footy fans around the country. When interviewing fans about their connection to the game for my PhD, one club volunteer — who had been the president of his local team for two years — remarked that “if myself and maybe two or three other people died in our sleep the club wouldn’t exist the following morning whereas with my AFL club, Collingwood, I know it’ll run until the cockroaches are dead. My local club needs me.”
It’s this type of feeling that makes footy, and more broadly, community so important – more important and reflective of our society and values than many of our other public holidays.
Of course there’s those who can’t get their head around the holiday and the fact it’s on a Friday, but the grand final is on a Saturday.
But who cares? Those who continue to whinge need to get over it. Go and grab a footy and have a kick. It’ll be much better for you than sitting at a desk in an office all day.