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The Aussie Sporting Psyche

  • Posted by Peter Richards
  • January 17, 2013 2:13 AM AEDT

Not all Australians feel passionately about sport, sport is undeniably linked to the Australian psyche


Australians pride themselves on their sporting prowess and success. Most Australians could easily name ten famous Australian athletes, but struggle to name half that number of Australians who are acclaimed for humanitarian achievements. Although not all Australians feel passionately about sport, sport is undeniably linked to the Australian psyche. The will to win at most if not all costs is undeniably part of the Aussie sporting DNA and having been on the wrong side of it any number of times British teams of all sporting denominations have never been quite able to divine its source.

Does it hark back to the early settlers transported for heinous crimes such as stealing a sheep and then sent in chains into a hostile environment where most of the local wildlife – both two and four legged – wanted to kill you?  Is it the ‘island on the other side of the world’ mentality that produces sportsmen who just don’t fear anybody?  Is it living in an environment where the majority of fauna that can either fly, walk or swim can do you irreparable damage ? Whatever it is the Australian sporting culture should never be taken lightly-particularly by us Brits.  Whether the sport is Rugby (league or union), cricket, swimming, cycling or tiddley winks – the sporting enemy that we have consistently and most comprehensively fallen too have been those sporting the ‘Green and Gold’. The spectres of Mal Malinga, David Campese, Rod Laver, Shane Warne, Merve Hughes, Anna Mears and a host of others will still be haunting us for years to come. Sure there has been the odd blip – the England Cricket team have still got the Ashes and the last two Olympics have seen the Uk comprehensively out-medalling the Australians but by and large the records show that that the Aussies have pipped us on most sporting fronts.

What is it then that gives them the edge over their European counterparts? Well for a start you can blame the weather. Most parks in Sydney on weekday lunchtime will be full of blokes throwing a ball around. You could play cricket all year round in most parts of Australia. The weather is designed to build sporting gods. Compare that to a rugby league training session on a wet Wakefield morning – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that in UK we try to compete in an international sporting arena despite the weather.

There is also a considerable investment that the Aussie government have made in sports infrastructure – recently fallen off as evidenced by the last Olympic results – but by and large there has been more money spent on sports structures in Australia in the last 20 years than the whole of the eastern block made  since the end of World War 2.

However, and not withstanding any of the above most international sportsman will have a least one apocryphal story of the shear bloody mindedness of the Australian sporting mentality. That cantankerous I-don’t-know-how -to-lose-but-I-know-to-win mentality pervades most Aussie sporting teams allowing their competitors to gladiate without a backward glance.

Last weekend I spent 89 minutes and 40 seconds watching my team, Wales, dominate the Qantas Wallabies only for Kurtly Beale to race the length of the pitch, score the winning try and condemn us yet again to defeat in the dying moments of a match. Damn those Aussies for their swaggering winning ways.