"Queenslander!" -- Billy Moore (look there he is >>)
Parochial insurgency and ardent jingoistic tribalism is (or are) one of the great challenges of our time. We draw imaginary borders around something and call it a nation-state or a city-state or any other arbitrarily constituted geopolitical epicentre; add ample portions of ideology to the mix, and similarly formed power-bases with diametrically opposed views, stir vigorously and wait patiently for the world to destroy itself. When people believe in something they'll go to any length, any circular argument, any hypothetical extrapolation , any anomalous counter-example, any act of terrorism, any level of self-deception, to defend or perpetuate their personal prejudices.
State of Origin is the grandest spectacle in rugby league. The best players from New South Wales and Queensland (states of Australia), each year, converge on whatever battle grounds the NRL sanctions for a 3 match contest of wits and nihilism where the object is nothing less than the complete annihilation of the opposition team. Off the field everyone's mates, on the field half of its population is trying to kill you. This is why we watch. Sport is our PC version of war.
In New Zealand (where I come from) the only showdown even comparably epic is The Bi-Annual Sheep Sheering Extravaganzapaloza. We have a small portal to the rest of the world by way of satellite TV, so when we're not transfixed by the externally imposed grooming habits of our ovine cousins we sometimes play make believe, just to experience how fun it is pretending to be someone else. As kiwi's (a cutesy nick-name for New Zealanders) none of us are from NSW or Queensland, but if you're a fan of rugby league you pick a side anyway. It's a lot more fun than looking at sheep.
This year I came to Australia to fulfill my life long dream of being paid to play a sport (life long, if I exercise a little revisionist history -- it's like when they interview people on Survivor who swear that they love 'the game' and have always wanted to be on the show, yet the show has only been around for half as long as they have -- I'm the prototypical slacker, I didn't really have any solid dreams for a significant portion of my early life). Mission accomplished. As long as I can retain my position in the senior squad I'll get a miniscule amount of cash each game. Hip, hip, hurray!
Are we feeding the worst parts of our human nature in indulging our desire for differentiation from 'the Other' by supporting these types of divisive contests, or is this a healthy form of release, satisfying unsavoury desires that when left to accumulate inevitably result in even more deplorable acts of violence down the line? This much I can tell you: Do you know why I came to the Gold Coast? Simply because I support Queensland. This was the incredibly rigorous thought process that ultimately directed my actions. I mean who can forget Billy Moore, in '95 walking down the players tunnel to the field ready for the final and deciding game of the series, screaming psychotically "Queenslander!" over and over again. That kind of irrational devotion captured my imagination. It was the tipping point. Am I crazy? Examining the evidence, I can only conclude: Yes.
- correct, I don't know what half the words in this post mean.
- State of Origin begins on 03 June 2009
- non-sequiturs are the glue that joins my paragraphs together