“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.”
With that in mind, let’s triple-jump into the wide, wide world of sports.
Unless you’ve been lucky enough to avoid social-media or…anti-social (?) media recently, you’d know that a global phenomenon is currently underway in England: The Olympic Games, which is only slightly more of an athletic exercise than marketing one.
Australia prides itself on being a leader in the sporting world, and despite figures from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games corroborating that fact, the 2012 London campaign has been an abysmal effort. Since 2008, Australia has spent about $600 million on Olympic sports, which currently gives us a return-on-investment of…SIX GOLD MEDALS! In Beijing, Australia had the 2nd-best performance on a “gold-medal-to-population” ratio, with the gold medal in that event going to Jamaica. But that probably has more to do with the Caribbean being a landing point for thousands of enslaved West-Africans than Jamaicans living out their own versions of “Cool Runnings”.
I am of the unpopular opinion that almost all professional sports are severely over-rated and over-represented in society. Most half-hour news programs dedicate almost a third of their time to sports, and there are 17 sport channels on Foxtel (Australian cable TV). In which other field of endeavour would you find such media coverage? Biology? Mechanical engineering? Environmental news?
The funniest part of sport is hearing fans denigrate other people’s’ favourite sport. “That’s not a sport! My sport is tougher than your sport. SPORRRRRT!!!”. It’s like that Stephen Roberts quote about God: “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Despite our apparent love for physical activity, Australians are some of the fattest people on earth, with this study claiming that 71% of us are overweight! Maybe we should stop watching sport on tv and actually play it.
So, what does this have to do with Sydney and Melbourne? Well, I want to figure out which city is the sporting capital of Australia.
In Melbourne’s favour, it has five out of the top ten largest stadiums in Australia, while Sydney only has two. The Melbourne Cricket Ground also hosted the 1970 Aussie Rules Grand Final which holds the records for both the Highest Attendance at an Australian Sporting Event (121,696), and Most Number of Mulleted Bogans at a Sporting Event (also 121,696).
Sydney held the most recent Olympics in 2000, which is a feat Melbourne accomplished 44 years prior. Both cities have hosted the Commonwealth games (a multi-sport event where Australia destroys England, Canada and much of the third world), and shared hosting duties for the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
Also, both cities have two Twenty/20 cricket teams, and two A-League Soccer teams (Although Western Sydney is yet to play a game and Sydney FC averages just over half the crowd-attendance of Melbourne Victory)
As for Melbourne-invented Australian Football versus Sydney’s English-adopted Rugby League…well, I’ve discussed the issue here and here, and it was a resounding victory to Melbourne.
But which sport is the most popular in terms of participation? Surprisingly, it’s basketball. Paying no heed to our lack of either tall, black men or NBA television coverage, we apparently love the sport, especially Melbourne. But not as much as Stephanie Rice.
What about tennis? Ever heard of the Australian Open Grand Slam? Melbourne.
Formula One? Melbourne.
The only horse race in the world that requires a public holiday for its city? Melbourne Cup.
MotoGP? Melbourne (Well, Phillip Island, two hours from Melbourne)
Golf? Sydney with the Australian Open (Although Melbourne does have the Aus. Masters)
Look, in all sports, there are winners and losers. Except when there’s draw. Whatever, this isn’t soccer. Melbourne wins the gold.