The Numbers Game

The Numbers Game

 

It’s hot down on the ground, but our house, like all the shacks around here, is on stilts. I’m sitting at day’s end above green ants and dogs barking, taking the edge of the day.

 

The nature of team sports baffles me. I love it, of course. Always living alone on a mountain somewhere, and working in the bush, usually alone, playing it has walked me through countless community doors.

 

But now I’m working up in tropical Queensland, most everything is rugby, which is fine. Any activity is gold. But it’s got me thinking. Can rugby dominate a town’s culture like Aussie Rules, when there are only 13 players allowed on the field? If they have reserve teams, like the Australian footballers do, they are still about ten players down. That’s a lot of families. Numbers like Aussie Rules require more officials, and organisers. I would imagine it envelopes a town more.

 

Then again, a smaller town Aussie Rules team might be more prone to fall over if numbers get low.

I wonder how the numbers affect the dynamic of the group? With much more players do the Aussie Rules players have to make more of an effort to be more inclusive? More tolerant of types?

Many clubs of any code have an inner clique. Maybe it’s more easier to form breakaway groups within the team in Aussie Rules? Be less inclusive as a whole?

How does having less or more numbers affect the way they go out? Their club functions? The viewing numbers?

Cricket is played by 11, in summer, when most families are down the beach. Many a country oval is filled with a handful of the best mob you’ll ever meet, but only one or two partners, and that’s it. Sometimes you see them in their team colours, (white and a two tone cap) at the local pub on Saturday night, still going strong. They have a great bond I’m jealous of. But it doesn’t transcend to nods from the local butcher, and winks from the checkout attendant. There’s women’s cricket, which is brilliant! But for the most part, it’s a bloke’s world.

 

Then there’s the solo sportsman, or woman, who does things because. Just Because. Yet, if they are any good at it, they cultivate a team around them. Trainers, gym partners, various coaches, sparring opponents. There’s a bond in that, for sure! Would that link help you with your motivation? The peer pressure of your mixed martial arts gym? Your tennis club? Does that stuff ever extend to the local community, or does the community member have to go to it?

If you start to succeed you give the whole community pride. Even if it’s a sport they don’t follow. You give them a smile when they see you at the store, at the pub. By winning, you give. But what if you just get by? No less a reason to do anything. Giving your all is the only real worth. Or even simply enjoying the process. Who knows? But how does the town react?

 

Who had the most biddies doing a chook raffle for them outside the supermarket on a Saturday morning?

Sitting on my porch, having a beer in relentless muggy heat, I think about these things while our baby sleeps. It beats watching TV.

 

Comments

  1. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    No real answers to the many questions Matt. I think every stitch of community building counts. Alone and together. Alone together.

    But I love the reflective space you capture of ‘up there’.

    We spent Christmas significantly lower … in Brisbane and up under the canopy of Lamington National Park. Bris was hot hot. We sat at the edge of the day at the back of the Queenslander, lifted one or two storeys up at the back of the block (the back door that goes to no-where but a huge view), the windows of the whole back open wide, eliciting the breeze (or the storm) from the city and river … beer in hand … I was agog at how much easier it was to to think in the slow thick of Bris than the clutter and bang of Sydney.

    Hope your wee one is thriving.

  2. Matt Zurbo says:

    Ahh, the pace of world versus the pace of mind versus the pace of your own life, Mathilde. Do Sydney people think more intensely due to their speed? Everything is more expensive. They must work more, longer. Are time and thought a gasp for air? Then again, if things slowed down like a Brisbane river, and the sun was just right, would you prefer to be outside, letting everything slide and slide…. Or can you sit back in Sydney, while other people scoff the news, watching the pace with which they go by with a calm eye? What about in the Injune pub, in outback NSW. The night I was there nothing was going on, and hadn’t for months, if you asked the bargirl. A distraction-free world. Yet the annoying piss-head beside me wasn’t thinking much at all!

    how much thought do we put into watching our football? Sometimes, I’ve just finished a chocolate bar, or a meal, and realised I consumed it, not ate. That I gave it no thought at all. Many AFL games are like that to me. I have to stop, step back, look at where I am before taking in a game in front of me. It helps the taste buds. It helps the memory, ives it a story. It helps the game.

    That’s why watching the footy at a pub, busy or slow, Sydney or the bush, always has such charm. x

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