I am sick to death of hearing about John Aloisi and the A-League is to blame.
Damn Australian football and its broadening into the consciousness of the mainstream. Ever since Awer Mabil slotted that goal for Adelaide in 2014 and ran directly towards his Spanish mentor, launching himself into his arms, my wife has taken an interest in football.
She was intrigued by the refugee story behind Mabil and watched me sob like a baby when the two men embraced.
Before that, football was my domain.
World Cup qualifiers were watched alone, full concentration permitted. Sure, I would try to recount the events later and get her to see the significance of qualification to Germany or Josh Kennedy’s heroics against Japan, but she just didn’t get it.
Until that is, the return of John Aloisi following his hiatus from the Australian game after departing the Melbourne Heart in 2014.
I can still remember the exact day, date and moment that she joined the Aloisi fan club.
“Who’s that?”, she asked as she strolled by the television on the sixth of November 2015. I told her it was John Aloisi, the guy who had kicked the most famous penalty in the history of Australian football.
She seemed completely disinterested in any of his achievements or history and kept ogling the screen, mentioning his amazing cheekbones, sexy greys peeking through his coiffured hair and his bedroom eyes that apparently make her go weak at the knees.
Ever since that day and her coincidental ironing sessions in the lounge room whenever the Brisbane Roar hit the screen, I have been the pauper to the prince that is John Aloisi.
It doesn’t make me angry, only because of ‘that penalty’. If he had missed on that glorious night, I might have hunted him down and had words by now. But to Australian football fans, he will forever be sacred.
This got me thinking about sex appeal, football and sport in general. I wondered if it was PC for my bride to be captivated by this man at the exclusion of his skills and tactics.
Wasn’t I previously lambasted for doing the same thing? I think I was and the subsequent change in social expectations around ‘selling’ sports with sex seemed to suggest that I had been a pervert in the way I had been watching for years. If I had been a little older, I could even have made ‘dirty old man status.’
The most obvious sign of the decreased use of sexualisation in sport is the role of the cheer girl becoming near extinct in this country.
The A-League didn’t go down the road of cheer girls, yet other younger organisations such as the IPL and various T-20 competitions around the world took them on board as part of their strategy.
My wife’s ‘interest’ in John Aloisi suggests that there could still be a role for enthusiastic dance troupes in a game played and supported by young and sexy people.
Rugby league clubs still employ professional dance squads that perform at the ground, yet AFL and Rugby have long since severed ties with the colour and spectacle of dancing girls.
I can still remember the ‘dark days’ of the Rockettes (a British group of the same name exists today) and Swanettes who graced our playing fields and Television screens for only a short period.
They continued a long tradition of cheerleaders, yet the politically correct madness of the 1990’s was the beginning of the end and slowly but surely, the high leg kick and pom-pom shake became less and less frequent.
As I reflect on the role of the dancing girl in sport, I still find myself caught between two schools of thought.
The theatre, atmosphere and colour added to a contest by attractive young people smiling and cheering could be perceived as wholesome fun and one that is a thrill even for the performers themselves.
Alternatively, the public spectacle created by overly sexualised young dancers is seedy and uncomfortable, considering the disparity between the age of the performers and ‘interested’ members of the crowd.
This has led to codes endeavouring to find other ways to entertain paying audiences. Unfortunately, this ‘entertainment’ is often so poor that one can’t help wonder whether anyone is actually being entertained at all.
League has really dropped the ball in the recent past. Holding dance competitions, firing T-shirts into the crowd with some sort of nerf rocket launcher and watching unskilled members of the crowd attempt to catch or kick with seemingly zero chance of success, is not my idea of entertainment.
I’ve spent the first few weeks of the new NBL season attempting to see who is ‘entertaining’ at games. I have located cheer girls, yet they seem to be seated and more passive than those of the past.
Rather shoddy entertainment in the form of an unlikely looking individual taking a shot from row forty in the faint hope of winning a prize that is far too valuable to be won, seems to have become the central source of entertainment during breaks.
The Big Bash will probably continue with their reliance on fireworks to celebrate massive hits and wickets. The Australian Cricket Board will undoubtedly stick its head in the sand once more and provide very little in terms of entertainment at Test and ODI matches and continue to watch both forms of the game die a slow death.
With the resources available to the ACB it is shameful that the organisers of the Premier League Bowls held in Moama do a better job at creating a spectacle for an event.
Call me old fashioned, but watching a professional group of people perform a slick dance routine to the sound of Lady Marmalade would be far more entertaining.
Maybe football has an opportunity here, and perhaps there is scope for a little old-fashioned razzmatazz.
Tara Rushton lights up the screen each week, and I am captivated. Neroli Meadows is a sassy media savvy woman who catches my eye each time she probes players with well-crafted questions.
There you go, I said. I like watching them and find them attractive, just like a particular person’s interest in John Aloisi.
Maybe if we avoid going down the Chris Gayle road of sheer misogyny and crudity, there might just be a place for a little more cheek in our game.
I could watch the girls high kick and shake away, and my wife could cry out ‘There’s Johnny,’ every time that mongrel Aloisi appears on the screen.