11.5 C
Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

The politics of sport

Latest News

Five hours spent at last Thursday’s Byron Council

If you need a fix of local government decision-making, you could dip into the odd five-hour online recording of what occurred at last Thursday’s Council meeting.

Other News

Dance for Brazil

The Mahico and Aruanda crews are joining hands to invite the entire community to be a part of Dance for Brazil – a day to flood Brazil with support, this Sunday in Byron Bay.

Posters gone

I am writing to bring attention to a growing issue in our community – the removal of community posters....

Managing aquifers to deal with groundwater loss

Australians have worried about running out of water since before colonisation. Back then, coastal Aboriginal people turned to rivers, streams and lakes for drinking water; those inland, perhaps a mound spring or well-charged rock hole.

Causes of death

There’s been a lot of talk about an epidemic of violence against women lately, including Dr Ray Moynihan’s article...

Garry Simes racks up 25 finishes at Australia’s oldest ironman triathlon

Ballina Triathlon Club member Garry Simes has achieved the milestone of finishing the Port Macquarie Ironman Australia race, one...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Why are we so blasé about violent pornography?

Why is it a turn on to hurt us? Recent intersectional studies have shown that online misogyny and violent pornography are contributors to a sharp rise in domestic violence. In NSW alone, police attend 500 incidents every day. If there were 500 threats or incidents at banks, or to the government, we would be in a state of emergency. Instead we stop, shake our heads, we listen to good men in government speak empty words, make a few promises, and move on. If you’ve ever lived through violence, it’s pretty well what your abuser does after hitting you.

politician in green and gold disguise
Who is that masked man in green and gold? Cloudcatcher Media with Midjourney AI.

As the Matildas have advanced through the World Cup, it’s been an unedifying spectacle to see one politician after another turning into an enthusiastic women’s football supporter, even if most of them probably couldn’t explain the offside rule or pick out Caitlin Foord in a lineup a few days ago.

Anthony Albanese has already floated the idea of a public holiday if the Matildas manage to win the cup. Even if they don’t get that far, hopefully other sports (and nations) will pay attention to the closing of the gender pay gap which the Matildas and Socceroos have pioneered. Although equity isn’t quite there yet in terms of prize money, it’s getting close, and the Matildas have already achieved far more than their male counterparts on the field.

As for the politicians, even Peter Dutton is on side with the Matildas, abandoning his usual negativity to say it was ‘a great honour’ to be at the game against Denmark. No matter how unsporty the politician, it’s hard to succeed for long in this country if you don’t at least pretend to be interested, as Paul Keating learned. John Howard had his cricket, ScoMo had the Sharks and Albo has the Rabbitohs.

Bob Hawke set the bar high with his famous enthusiasm over the America’s Cup, a yacht race for extremely rich people that few Australians had ever heard of until Alan Bond and the winged keel. The Olympics of 1956 and 2000 were both exploited by state and federal politicians, providing unity, focus and distraction in the time honoured tradition of bread and circuses, while the athletes did all the hard work in the gladiatorial arena.

Sir Hubert Opperman was one of Australia’s greatest cyclists. It’s unknown if he took performance enhancing substances while he was a politician. Wikipedia CC.

Players and pollies

There have been numerous Australian sportspeople who became politicians, including the legendary cyclist Hubert Opperman, Hockeyroo Nova Peris Kneebone and tennis player John Alexander, who regained John Howard’s seat for the Liberals after his shock loss to Maxine McKew.

The problem is that the lustre quickly seems to fade when there’s a transition from sporting glory to parliamentary compromise, as David Pocock may now be learning.

The recent Commonwealth Games debacle has shown it can be politically costly to be too closely associated with a sporting event when things go pear-shaped. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said schools and hospitals were more important. It’s yet to be seen if the electorate agrees with him.

Unsurprising victories aren’t very useful for politicians, as the national women’s netball team the Diamonds discovered when they won their World Cup a few days ago (for the twelfth time), only to be ignored by almost everyone in favour of the Matildas. The battling Australian underdog myth needs to be respected, even if it doesn’t bear very close examination.

The United States has different myths about itself, which made the responses of the current and former president to the unexpected early departure of their national women’s soccer team from Australia illuminating.

Retiring US soccer star Megan Rapinhoe, who snubbed Donald Trump as president. Wikipedia CC.

Targeting retiring star Megan Rapinhoe, who inexplicably missed a crucial penalty, Donald Trump said, ‘WOKE EQUALS FAILURE’.

Joe Biden said to the team, ‘I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to inspire Americans with your grit and determination – on and off the field.’

Back here in Australia, things have never looked so bright for women in the world game. Winning is everything of course, in both sport and politics, and the current excitement around the Matildas might vanish like a mirage if the Australians go down against Les Bleues tomorrow night, but it feels like the ground has already shifted. A meaningful political response would be an increase in funding for women’s sport across the board, rather than another public holiday.

Whatever happens next, we can thank the Matildas for temporarily distracting us from politics, and other awful realities.

David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


    • It’s just another example of the level of immature under grad humour that someone on the Echo staff seems to consider serious graphic commentary. By all means call truth to power but this and the black smattered John Howard face is equivalent in intelligent symbolism to a Hitler mo and glasses.

      Maybe try the two finger rabbit ears on the next portrait.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Editorial – Optics vs reform

One of the more hyped elements of last week’s federal budget was a $300 handout to every homeowner to alleviate the increase in energy costs.

Final kambo witnesses called, inquest yet to hear from Lore Solaris and Cameron Kite

The Jarrad Antonovich inquest ground inexorably towards its conclusion yesterday, with more evidence from witnesses showing the tragedy could possibly have been avoided, and certainly the ongoing damage lessened, if everyone involved had taken responsibility earlier.

A long story

I see that Israel supporters take exception to the expression ‘from the river to the sea’ as meaning that all Jews should be wiped...

Housing: too important to leave to private market

It saddens me every time I get to the back of The Echo and see all the real estate ads, so I was mortified...