The limp reaction to New South Wales finally beating Queensland is telling. To many, myself included, the culture of scandal has pushed us away for good.
There’s been something shifting in the background of this nation, something that became clear this morning after New South Wales finally beat Queensland. We’re witness to a very quiet exodus from our sporting Edens.
The concept of scandal and sport in this country has also run parallel to the other. The term latest scandal is an empty sentence, as the ugliness around the game never seems to reach the stands. Nate Myles may publically stain a hotel hallway with his drunken effluent, but Queensland still cheered him the next day. Mark Gasnier might have drunkenly commanded a woman to “fire up, you sad c— “, as there were “four toey humans in the cab”, but we watched the rest of the series. Add to the culture of Ben Cousins, of Shane Warne, of whoever, it didn’t matter. We were able to compartmentalise the two. Athletes can be dickheads, but it wasn’t enough to make us stop watching.
That held true for the morning of the millennium. What I’ve noticed recently is a very quiet abandonment of the ships we once sailed on. Both collective, but also through the eyes of the individual. This morning is one that New South Welshpeople have not tasted in a decade. We beat Queensland. However, the lack of reaction has been the most noticeable aspect. Only the Daily Telegraph (which has long been a football wrapped in broadsheet), ran with it at the top of their page. The Australian, The Guardian, The ABC even News.com.au ran it underneath the shale of more important news. It might be an obvious point, but our media outlets are a mirror for our society, perhaps they didn’t care, because we didn’t. I didn’t even watch game two. Added to this fact that I discovered that Australia was beaten by England in the Cricket, in England. I didn’t even know we were in England. I had to Google when the Ashes were. It’s a shameful act for me, as up to the age of 32, I was devout. Summer was sacred as it was cricket, and cricket was sacred because it was summer.
Last summer just became another season. I felt the neg vibes, but I ignored it. But, I didn’t make an effort to see us play. How much of that was down to the ball-tampering scandal, the tears of Steve Smith and our frankly volcanic outrage toward a square of sandpaper on an orb of leather, I’m not sure. It was certainly part of it, perhaps the final key in the final crack. Suddenly, cricket became a hassle. It became a meh. It became an arena to defend, and separate yourself from the actions of those who played it.
It became work, not play.
Long read this, but interesting and detailed on Steve Smith and the culture of the Australian cricket team…https://t.co/mAJgjMgt3M
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) 23 June 2018
Back to the State of Origin, I’ve had the staunchest acolytes of Rugby League casually disclose their betrayal. A close friend of mine recently disclosed that seeing his team atop of the league meant nothing to him. He was sick of “their bullshit” and reconciled to not watch them play. He’ll now follow soccer. I was staggered, as he’s the standard league type. A man of grit and blue-collar breeding. As were the cousins of mine, those born in Junee, a ventricle in Rugby’s heartland, who have given up the game in favour of FIFA on the PS4. As I write this, all six of them are currently in Russia for the World Cup. I asked them why they pulled the pin, and the reasons were similar. They were done. I don’t want to typecast here, but I’ve seen them start a fist fight with someone over not jumping over a fire.
Perhaps the high wave of scandal has finally rolled back and drowned the populace. The galaxy of arrests, boozy evenings and domestic violence has finally washed us away. Maybe the game is no longer worth the trouble. I’m unsure. Something feels different, the indifference is palpable. Some might roundly castigate the snowflake set for taking the biff out, but it seems that they’re no longer the boogeymen to blame.
As a recent Uber driver pointed out (after he made the rumoured claim that Melbourne gave away 61,000 tickets for Origin I), that the problem is not with the venue, rather those playing in it.