Thursday, 11 February 2010

I live in a village inside a suburb

inside a district inside a city. (The city has two cathedrals.) The focal point is the little area that contains the shopping centre, the library, 'the old village' and the Council chambers. A little further up the hill there is one of the oldest churches in the state, one of the local historic hotels and a row of tiny historic shops (empty apart from the restaurant in the old post office).
It is an area where many people know one another. If they do not know others by name they know them by sight. Many people have lived here all their lives. Others, like me, have lived here, gone away, returned, gone away and returned. I did not do this by choice but many others have. They feel at home here. Take it away and they would feel lost. They live in houses they call homes but the reality is that 'home' is also the extended area around their actual dwelling. They know it. They feel safe there.
I considered all this as I was glancing, for the second day, at the ongoing uproar over the demise of a much loved football team - much loved by others that is. I have no interest in football. It long ago ceased to be a sport and became big business with players bought and sold like slaves in a Roman marketplace. (Yes, I know. These slaves are paid exorbitant sums of money to kick a ball around a muddy field.)
The football team concerned belonged to one of the poorest areas of the city. It has been struggling for a long time. It does not get the financial support from local business that teams in wealthier areas get. Local business undoubtedly cannot afford it. There has been an economic downturn. But, if the football team goes, then something much more important goes. It has been the focal point for a great many people. Around 20% of 'footy fans' support the team in one way or another. It is their meeting place, their weekend entertainment, their support group, their pride, their - everything. It is the team the kids I taught to knit 35 years ago made their beanies and scarves for. It is the team that won premiership, after premiership until the central body took the best players for the state team that played in the national rather than the state league.
I suspect the decline set in then. Local people were not really interested. "Footy" is a local passion. There is no international competition. It is not rugby or soccer. It is "Aussie rules". It bores me rigid but I understand the outcry because it is "their team" and they are losing it.
In my area it would make a difference but other things would replace it. In that area there is nothing to replace it. There is no focal point. It will mean the loss of community. I think it will be the cause of an increase in the social problems that already exist there. There will be many more bored young males with nothing to do. After all, you do not switch allegiance from one football team to another just like that.
This is not of concern to the officials who made the decision. They are running a business. They are running a very big business indeed. It is a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The bottom line is more important to them.
In the end it is going to cost more than it will save.


Tony said...

Which team are you talking about? Is it the Port Adelaide SANFL team?

Old Kitty said...


This is very sad. When something that holds a community together it really ought to be treasured and fostered.

It's such a shame that money/finance - greed? always has the upper hand. I hope the community rally together behind their team.

Take care

catdownunder said...

Yes Tony - as I said football bores me but I know the impact it will have on the local community. Just goes to show though - it is big business and not a game any more.
"Old Kitty" is right!

Donna Hosie said...

If the community truly cares, then the team will be dissolved back into the grass roots level and it will rise again.

Tony said...

It's a shame that petty jealousy on the part of the rest of South Australia could lead to the death of the state's most successful team. I hope they're happy when the SANFL becomes even more boring than at present...

catdownunder said...

Obviously you know more about football than I do Tony! (I find it boring and the risk of serious injury worries me.) The only sport I have much time for is cricket - and, most of the time, I take no notice of that. My father is just the same so perhaps it is in my genes?
I just hope Donna is right and something pulls the community together again.