Further, Chomsky states the fact each individual rates their sporting views and opinions so highly is a sign of how much time and attention we invest in sport at the expense of issues that really matter.
Many would have a better chance of providing a detailed analysis of their favourite team’s game plan than the major policies that will shape the next election.
All of this matters, of course, because for society to be as vibrant and effective as it should be, citizens need to be active participants and contributors, rather than passive consumers. The theory goes that if we overload on such things as sport, we are not engaging in the issues that shape society. Instead we are distracted.
But while watching 33 games of footy in 20 days is not the sort of thing that would float Chomsky’s boat, I suspect for many, it’s come just at the right time and more so, it’s just what they need.
Let’s be honest, engaging in society’s issues is exhausting. At the moment it’s a constant stream of bad news with a daily scroll of statistics of new coronavirus cases, deaths, job losses, day care challenges, outbreaks in aged care facilities and other coronavirus issues.
Then there’s the anger, the finger pointing and the blame game. It’s all so very negative.
Last Thursday I made the decision to escape it all. I ignored all of the coronavirus news and instead watched every game of footy I could over the weekend. I listened to footy talkback on radio and engaged in all the footy news and issues from the week – Tom Papley’s fine for staging, the fallout of Callan Ward’s late free kick on Friday night, the bizarre Richmond groping issue and the question of where this year’s Grand Final will be played.
I have always encouraged my sports loving students to broaden their attention and interests beyond sport to ensure they engage in all aspects of life. After all, being informed means you can participate and contribute. But every now and again, we all need a distraction and something to escape to. My footy fix over the weekend was the great escape I needed. My team didn’t even win, but it was still the best weekend I’d had in ages.
Sam Duncan is a lecturer in sports media and marketing.