It is not unusual that Australia is extremely passionate about sports, or that we hold our sports stars in high esteem. All countries put their sporting heroes on pedestals that Dionysus would envy. Sports itself is an exhibition of values that every society holds to; alliance, battle, victory, achievement, and glory. So, when individuals excel with their possession of those values, it is no wonder they are held in this high esteem. What is unusual though, is that Australia has elevated our sports stars and their achievements into our national story.
Some will argue that the reason for this is that Australia lacks a strong national identity, or that we don’t have a culture worth preserving. This is in fact the opinion of high profile artists such as director George Miller who said “We (Australia) really don’t have a significant story to tell, perhaps apart from its indigenous story. Australia, at its heart is so racist; I don’t think we can even stomach it.”
Perhaps the latter part of this statement leans toward the extreme, but ask any Australian what they would consider as the most poignant tale of our history is, and they would be lost for words. We as a nation do not have the same folklore that countries such as America or Britain do, and the simple explanation for this is that we are a much younger nation than those, so we do not have the same depth of history.
If we consider Australian culture, it is typical of an Australian to claim that we do not have one. But the definition of culture is ‘a quality in a society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellence in arts, manners, or scholarly pursuits, etc’. With this in mind we could say that sports are a significant part of our culture, if not the most; an aggregate audience of 128.5 million tuned in to watch rugby league over the 2008-2009 periods.
Perhaps, at least for now, our culture is largely to do with our sporting triumphs, and the joy of playing sports as a social pastime. To say that Australia does not have a culture or a national identity would be denying what is a part of every Australian’s life; sport. Therefore we cannot focus too heavily on those who represent our cultural values.