Crio’s Q: Partisan or Purist?

What’s your idea of a good game?

A “we flogged ‘em” or a “quality contest?

University of Nottingham philosopher, Stephen Mumford, considered the journey from anguished barracker to peaceful, still passionate, observer in his “Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion” (Routledge, 2011), as explained in an interview aired on

He also pondered the complications of personality…do Tiger or John Terry’s (or Fev’s) foibles influence your evaluation of them as sportsmen?

I suspect many of us have hybrid hearts….and that the “good contest; my team wins” model is norm.

But it is an interesting quandary.

Do you just love your team?

Can you enjoy “neutral” battles?

No right answer here!

Partisan or purist?



  1. John Butler says

    Partisan in footy. Purist in cricket.

    BTW, did Mumford have any sons? (Ok, I acknowledge that was uncalled-for).

  2. Totally partisan. If I watch a match between two teams that I do not support I will support one of them while I am watching the match. I can appreciate fine play by the other side (except perhaps against Collingwood) but I have to barrack for someone.

    I experienced this phenomenon today watching the ALP leadership battle. As a Greens voter I am pretty disappointed by a lot of current Labor policy but I still found myself barracking for Julia on the basis of supporting the team player against the one man band. (I’m not trying to divert this thread onto politics, I am just demonstrating my partisan personality).

  3. This looks like another request purchase for my local library. I don’t think it is a question of either or. Irrespective of support for a favourite team, spectators should be able to enjoy elite level professional sport for the skill, fitness, competitiveness and mental strength of the players. I do not think that spectators can have the same emotional feeling of achievement or disappointment as a player. I have never been able to understand the fanaticism and irrational behavior of some spectators, especially when they have a different personality in other aspects of their lives. I am often bemused in the Geelong Social Club when middle aged women have an orgasm when their favourite player gets the ball or middle aged men jump out of their seats and abuse the umpire at a decision they don’t like. People also often confuse genuine exitement and pleasure with irrational fanatical behavior among football spectators.The best spectators for genuine exitement and pleasure that I have seen are aboriginal people at the Tiwi Islands grand final at Ngiui on Bathurst Island. Supporters of both teams genuinely enjoyed the skills of all players and had a great time exchanging light hearted banter.

  4. Andrew Else says

    I agree, in part, with John in that it depends on (a) the game/sport/event, and (b) the teams that are competing.
    When it comes to AFL, I love watching the big home and away games and any final for all of the obvious reasons. I will occasionally go for one team over another (if Carlton is playing or if I’ve had a a bet), but I don’t find it neccessary to barrack in order to enjoy the game. Similarly, I can watch any park footy game and enjoy it no problems.
    If Essendon is playing, however, I am certainly not there to appreciate the nuances of the game (insert gag here), and when the match is finished, I am unable to relay anything about the other team’s performance. As far as I’m concerned, the opposition is a group of 22 men in different jumpers trying to stop my team. If an opposition midfielder has had 30 touches, there’s no chance I have noticed it. On rare occasions, a player from the other team stands out – maybe a full forward kicking a bag – but that is pretty rare. As for the game as a ‘spectacle’, I think you can find beauty in any win and to be honest I don’t know what some of the anti-Lyon Saints fans have been complaining about in the last couple of years.

  5. Andrew Else says

    Pt 2..sorry

    Cricket is a funny one. I’m always happy to see an Australian opponent play well, though I will still want the Aussies to win. The fact that you attend a day of a test match without seeing the final result (unless you go on the final day…obviously) helps you enjoy the spectacle more. The best day of test cricket I’ve ever attended was day 1 of the Old Trafford test in 2005 and it was probably Australia’s worst day of the series (Warne’s 600th notwithstanding).
    After trying to decide on an EPL team, I just gave up and keep an eye on different teams here and there. This year it’s Sunderland and Norwich as the fine Celtic men of O’Neill and Lambert respectively are involved. Having said that, I still watch all the highlights and all the big games
    Sometimes I like the sport itself but the standard/running of the relevant league puts me off entirely – hello A-League and NBL
    I think AFL lends itself to partisan behaviour due to its domestic nature. With 18 teams, and 10 in one state, as a supporter you will always be in the minority (the Pies might have 200k supporters…but there are 16.8m who aren’t), whereas everyone in the country can get behind the Aussies, Wallabies, Diamonds etc, and everyone in the city can get behind the Raiders, Brumbies or Rebels, Storm, etc, not many folk are going to support your team for you. That’s also why our mates who we share clubs with are so close, and probably why the Cats Cartel is so strong on this site.
    And no Mark, I don’t think a fan has the ‘same emotional feeling of achievement or disappointment as a player’. Frankly, I don’t think a fan wants that feeling. We can yell, scream and jump up and down and it’s all in good fun. Sport matters for a fan because it doesn’t matter. I can see you leaning on the nearest pillar, arms folded, rolling your eyes disdainfully in the social club as all the supporters beam, back-slap, shout the bar and reminisce. Each to their own.

  6. I reckon in Australian footy many fans have the dual appreciation you’re talking about Crio.I think there is a deep and maybe even sub-conscious love of the game, for all it contains, and all it means. I think there is a conscious love of club. I resent the over-simplification of footy by analysts who describe it with a one-stop explanation: “It’s tribal”. That’s just part of it. A significant part. But the game itself is a key.

  7. I am happy to admit that I do get drawn into great sporting contests – and I mean great. Not the routinely ‘great’ as decreed by commentators and marketers.

    Each engaging situation has its own essence, and most of them do not involve teams/individuals to whom I’m closely connected.

    I was drawn into the one day interstate final the other night – which came as a surprise to me. It wasn’t great. But it was intriguing and engaging.

  8. Part partisan but pure purist.

  9. Peter Baulderstone says

    Which part of us is purist and which partisan? I reckon that winners are purist (after the fact) and hopeless losers are also purists. Two examples – I don’t reckon many Magpie barrackers thought the first 3 quarters of the 2011 GF were the pinnacle of modern finals footy. Those of us without ‘skin in the game’ probably thought it was. Geelong supporters probably agree it was (in retrospect) but are blinded by their last quarter glories to what came before (“we were just teasing them/giving them a sniff”).
    For my part – I spent my early football life barracking for hopeless jokes – West Torrens and St Kilda (I rest my case, m’lud). So I developed the purist appreciation of “the spectacle” and “the contest”. I wavered a bit in the mid noughties with the Eagles success. But 08/09/10 brought me back to the “hopeless joke’s” purist love of the “finer things of the game”. Then 2 things happened – the Eagles started winning and I started writing their games for the Almanac.
    This was serious “skin in the game”. Nerves set in. I hated writing about losses. We needed to keep winning to stay ahead of Carlton for the double chance. Until we were 6 goals in front I was a nervous wreck. The crowning glory was the semi-final against the Blues at Subi. I was writing for the book. Woosha, 22 players and I had to prove that this season had not all been a fluke or a mirage. By 3 quarter time I did not know whether to head for the cardiac ward, the stroke ward or the psych ward if we lost. There was not any hope of a flogging, but I had morphed over the course of a season into the most one-eyed, ranting, raging, primeval partisan specimen imaginable.
    You can take your purist love of the spectacle and stick it up your jumper – until we start losing again (and thats not anytime soon).

  10. “until we start losing again (and thats not anytime soon)”.

    Quoted and noted Peter.

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