Sacred Ground

Football. Sigh. It’s big here in Australia. It’s really big. And it’s sacred. It has worshippers who get entirely riled when you fail to acknowledge the sacredness of ‘the’ game. Its fans are devoted to the core. The players are put on pedestals and either worshipped with a sense of quiet awe, or spoken about as if they were a best friend, or a son. Players can be swiftly and brutally crucified if they mismanage their private lives, but unlike famous singers or actors, or even other sports stars in Australia, they are even more swiftly excused and welcomed back to the fold.

In short, it’s a religion.

There are two things about the almighty game of Australian rules football and AFL fans that rile me. One is that the fans cannot see that their resemblance to religious fanatics is more than just fleeting. Are they so starved of any spiritual faith or joy that they pour all of their passion into a game? Who knows? The other thing is they just simply flat out refuse to see that even though women are allowed, nay encouraged, to worship at the altar of the oval pigskin (and those who kick it), that’s all they’re encouraged to do. The female fans provide the estrogen adulation that a boys club of this magnitude naturally requires. Football is everywhere on Australian TV. There are shows dedicated just to AFL gossip; middle aged men talking about young men running around after a ball for hours. They are obsessed with each other, truly obsessed. It’s a cultural phenomenon that quite frankly, fascinates me. So many women I know flick through the TV channels saturated with football, shake their heads and then go and do something else. Don’t get me wrong, inadvertently, it’s a great thing that so many women switch off the TV and go and do something constructive, but do they ever wonder why not even public TV caters to their taste? Are we so used to living in a boys club that we just assume that that’s ok? It looks that way.

Rant over. I’m off to do something constructive. (If any of the Goddesses in the goddess club have a spare few million dollars, can we please start up our own media empire?)



Filed under Health, Humour, Women/Feminist, Writing

19 responses to “Sacred Ground

  1. Dawn

    As soon as I have a spare mil it’s yours!


  2. Paul Baylay

    Can you keep the noise down its RWC starting next week…

    All hail o-mighty Rugby World Cup… I shall worship thee with sacred subservance and shall not work for six weeks and will drink in your honour in the pub every day. Just make sure we win…

    Its so great to be a guy… 😀


  3. poseidonsmuse

    Yay Simonne! I think we can call it the Goddess Network…sounds good to me [actually, that’s brilliant….]. You go girl! (((((Hugs)))))


  4. Thank YOU for this post Simonne! Television is chock-full of the sports worshipping cultists and their followers. Can you imagine this scenario: Females run the world. Prime time TV is preempted every spring for female-exclusive content. Women become useless during “the season” and do nothing but sit on the couch, eyes glued to one episode after another, after which they will obsessively discuss their favorites for hours. The menfolk will attempt to get them to get up and make dinner, but we don’t hear them. The children will cry for attention and we point to the dads and expect them to “take care of it.” Meals are consumed in front of the TV. Parties are planned around the watching of said shows. The men sit sullenly in the dining room discussing farts or whatever it is they find amusing while the women congregate in front of the TV specifically purchased for the watching of the current season.

    I’m telling you, this would never happen. There would be men crying all over the planet if they were no longer the center of attention. Hey, I’m not man-bashing, not by a long shot; I’m just telling it like it is. Sports is a cult and our guys are the congregation.


  5. Ah, that annoying game. Football, or Soccer, in the UK is more tribalism than religion. That, and celebrity culture gone mad.
    P.S. I don’t THINK I’m a Goddess 🙂


  6. pradapixie

    As an honourary Goddess i’m right out of cash at the mo!
    You should try living here within spitting distance of the ‘great’ Manchester United….. groan, boring etc!


  7. Doktor Holocaust

    America likewise has it’s Religion of Men’s Sports, it’s Holy NASCAR Tabernacle, it’s Cult of Pro Wrestling. Many of those kneeling at these altars do indeed profess other faiths in my country, typically monotheistic ones that were founded in the middle east (I haven’t met any Zoroastrian tailgate-partyers, but I do not doubt their existence).

    The sport-cults offer a very tribal, shamanic, our-gods-walk-amongst-us-and-are-made-flesh sort of experience that standard sit-and-pray churches just can’t provide. The sport-cults provide a religion where promising young men are recruited and trained to BECOME GODS, even if only for a little while, to be powerful and beautiful and unquestioningly loved and believed to be capable of anything and given regular opportunites to prove that they are. Considering that sports are the only semi-violent rite of passage left to young men in modern first-world countries, is it any suprise they’re religionized?

    Another tie to old pagan practices is that sports are very seasonal. over here, there’s baseball season, basketball season, football season, and hockey season, the start of each signalling the return of the seasonal gods, the end of each signalling the annual Gotterdammerung of that season’s pantheon before they are reborn next year, same time, same channel.

    Sit-and-pray church says you can’t dual-enroll and be a sit-and-pray-churcher and a hooting-hollering-fire-starting-dead-animal-burning-seasonal-god-worshipper at the same time, but that fire-and-meat seasonal worship fills a spiritual need that the sit-and-pray churches can’t, so Sports are there to make sure that us boys get a chance to cook and eat absurd amounts of slain animal and howl for the shed of human blood.

    of course, american TV has special channels just for year-round sports-worship, and other special channels for other interests (I like the SciFi channel personally, and Cartoon Network), and even a couple networks targeted at women with lots of soap operas and talk shows.

    so I gotta ask… what do the women do when they need to hoot and cheer for bloodshed and roast unwholesomely large chunks of dead animal over open flame?


  8. Pingback: Old Time Religion and the Cult of Sports « Holocaust Labs

  9. Deb

    I don’t have a tv, so I don’t have to deal with the programming aspect, but I’m always amazed that as disconnected as I am, I can’t help but to know when each season starts. (each season of the sports that american men are obsessed with watching on tv, I mean. Other than that I know a little about … oh, what is the sport with wickets and batters? i know about it a little only because I used to hear the highlights before the bbc news came on.) It is impossible not to know because I work mostly with men, and they talk and talk and talk about it.

    In fact, I can tell that the invisible football league? Fantasy football league? something like that has started, because of how my coworkers are suddenly talking a weird language I don’t get.

    To be fair, I know some women who are into it almost as much as the men.


  10. V-

    Agreed! It’s a game in which even the losers go home millionaires so I just can’t get into the “sport” of it. My ex-husband, the one who wasn’t even moved to cry at the births of our children, cried when our football team lost the play offs.


  11. I think I must be the only guy in Australia who doesn’t care for AFL, or any kind of football… well, I don’t mind Union, but only when the World Cup’s on. It’s true though, we worship sport, we make excuses for it like nothing else. I think it’s something to do with how men have been brought up with old stories. Stories like The Iliad, Heracles, King Arthur, all carry themes of chivalry and competition, and we recognise some of that in sport. Sport reminds us of battle and glory, and on some core level that appeals to us still…

    What’s funny is that most guys don’t just want sport – we want a big TV to watch it on as well! We’ll spend months studying them, longer than anything else we’ll think about, until we finally spot our TV-pray and make the kill in Harvey Norman. And then it becomes more about showing off the TV than what we’re actually watching! We’re so predictable, aren’t we? 😉


  12. Doktor Holocaust

    i think CJ is on on to something as well. I never watch sports and don’t care for them in the slightest, but if i had sufficient funding for one of those ginormous televisions, there would definitely be one in the living room, playing zombie movies and dvds of PeeWee’s Playhouse.


  13. californiablogging

    I have tried to understand the sports fan metality. I did play sports and it was fun while it lasted but it hasn’t inspired a commitment from me….then again not much has…… hmmm


  14. I used to think about moving to Australia, but this sports religion was one aspect of Australian culture that caused me to slow down and not just rush headlong into that plan. I ended up in Canada instead (from the U.S.).

    CJ, do you get ribbed by other men for not being a sports fan?


  15. We really do worship sport in Aus more than any other country, I think. I don’t know whether that’s because we were isolated for a long time, so the way we found to be successful overseas was to be competitive. Or maybe it’s just part of our heritage.

    I don’t get ribbed by other guys that much, Kiki. Every now and then someone makes a joke, but it’s usually good-natured. And it’s so much of the culture here that you absorb a lot of it anyway. I like cricket and tennis in the summer, though, so that probably helps as well. 😉


  16. Well! Thanks everyone! Glad I’m not alone in this thinking 🙂
    DrH & CJwriter, I like your literary and historical comparisons, very thought provoking. And CJwriter, just so you don’t feel alone, my CJ (fiance) isn’t into it either.
    Kiki, that’s extremely fascinating – I’ve never heard anyone say their reticence about coming here was due to our sport fanaticism! I may need you to come over and help me fight off some of my family members who seldom show an interest in my writing and are now coming out of the woodwork in defence of their sacred game!


  17. Simonne, it was that and a couple of other things I read about the culture that scared me…though they might not even be true!


  18. Football is big in America too.
    I, myself, don’t subscribe in a big way to the sport or any sport for that matter. However, there is something about the smell of a freshly mowed football field that reminds me of the makings of fall.


  19. Doktor Holocaust

    just so the CJ’s don’t feel alone, I don’t understand the Cult of Sports either, and I’ve been in a number of crazy cults. the only sport I’ll watch on teevee is Bowling, and that is because I myself bowl.


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