For many Australians, there are two great passions: sport and ‘taking the piss’. This book is about national identity – and especially about Australia’s image as a sporting country. Whether reverent or not, any successful national image has to reflect something about the reality of the country. But it is also influenced by the reasons that people have for encouraging particular images – and by the conflicts between differing views of national identity, and of sport.
Buffeted by these elements, both the extent of Australian sports madness and the level of stirring have varied considerably over time. While many refer to long-lasting factors, such as the amount of sunshine, this book argues that the ebb and flow of sporting images are strongly linked to current views of national identity. Starting from Archer’s win in the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, it traces the importance of trade unions in the formation of Australian Rules, the success of a small rural town in holding one of the world’s foremost running races, and the win-from-behind of a fat arsed wombat knocking off the official mascots of Sydney 2000.
This book was based on a special issue of Soccer and Society.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 2 Measuring Sports Madness 3 Sport and National Identity 4 ‘The heart of what it means to be Australian’ 5 The Roar of the Crowd 6 Lifeblood of the Community 7 Start of this ‘sporting people’ 8 Early Sports 1860–1900 9 Visions of Australian Sport in 1900 10 Sports Images in a Time of Turmoil 1910–40 11 Heyday of the Amateur?: 1950s 12 Changing Times 1960–75 13 Marketing Sports Nationalism 1975–85 14 Take the Money and Run 1985–2007 15 Conclusion
Tony Ward is a writer and researcher based in Melbourne. Apart from his interest in national identity and sports, he runs a small consulting firm specialising in economic and financial analysis. He lives with his wife Gail in Elwood, inner Melbourne, and enjoys several sports, including golf, tennis, swimming and walking.
"Effectively the book is divided into two parts, with the first offering a more thematic examination, the second taking a chronological appraoch as it details Australian sport from 1860 through to the present. [...] The content is highly detailed and impressively researched." - Aaron Scott - Third Umpire
"Ward comes to his subject with anunfeigned zeal, asking all the right questions. this book contains much the best statistical analysis of its kind available." - Gideon Haigh, The Sydney Morning Herald