Sport holds a unique place in Australian society. It has the ability to send us through a full gamut of emotions and still galvanise the nation when the final whistle is blown.
Watching the Socceroos clamour their way out of trouble and experiencing the collective sigh of relief that was tangible as it emanated from lounge rooms across the nation made me ponder the power of sport.
My first contribution to The Roar was already planned; hard hitting, calculated and crafted. This was quickly shelved as a stronger emotion drove me to the keys. Somehow the events of the late spring and early summer encouraged me to look at the kaleidoscope of sport currently on display through a different lens.
From the tragic death of an international cricketer to sieges, hostages, shootings and venomous words stoking the fires that have sat, ember like, in our culture and psyche over recent years, the need for positivity was clearly apparent.
My thoughts turned to the landscape of the coming months and the Asian Cup seemed like a great place to start. Once struck by division and calamity, our A-League now presents a unified face to all Australians. Packed derby stadiums and rivalries based on region and tribal lines have led to an inclusive game that seems limitless in terms of growth potential.
The Asian Cup looms as the final piece of the puzzle. Could a successful campaign by the Socceroos solidify ten years of hard work and engrain the fortunes of our national team into our national psyche? Do we dare dream of it?
As the Asian Cup kicks offs, the Australian summer of tennis will be in full swing, hot balmy nights sitting into the wee hours watching Roger, Maria, Rafa and Serena await. Enjoy the theatre as we are continually reminded of ‘Our Sam’ and Lleyton the ‘Aussie Battler’. These at times annoying clichés will make me smile this summer rather than cringe considering what else might be unfolding on a gloomy twenty-four hour news channel.
For those not engrossed by the football or tennis, the recent evolution of digital television has led to so many channels that options seem endless on the busiest nights of the week. Dedicated Foxtel channels, commercial channels finally using their second and third channels for the right reasons and unprecedented internet access should satisfy even the most thirsty sports fan.
Moving to the gentlemen’s game, perhaps it is time to get a little sentimental as Richie Benaud battles illness and long term injuries after his car accident some months back. As both he and Bill Lawry become ‘guest’ commentators, even I will smile when Bill’s infantile cries of ‘bang’ bounce around my lounge room after a batsmen strikes a purposeful blow on Boxing Day.
Additionally, I hope our cricketers play with a passion and vigour that befits the memory of Phil Hughes. The beauty and dignity of the game can once again become the spirit behind the baggy green as opposed to some of the ugliness we have seen over past summers.
I know that it will be in some ways difficult to look at this picture of sport over the summer in the light I have mapped out. But my promise to you is that I will try. We have been to some dark places as a nation recently and the need for healing can be aided by the way we look at things and by the power of sport.
What we see does indeed depend upon where we stand. Perhaps the ultimate dream is a similar one for the upcoming winter months. Can our winter heroes inspire this level of hope and positivity? I’m not sure about you. But I certainly hope so.