A look into Australian Sporting Culture

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When comparing Australia to America one drastic difference that comes to mind is the culture around sports. In America, sports have always been extremely commercialized and revolve around profit and publicity. But in Australia sports take on a different tone for the population. I am enrolled in a course titled “Sport and Learning in Australian Culture” and the main thing we do is go on field trips to different sporting events occurring in the area. The class has given me a first-hand insight into the Australian sporting experience and unique events that are not mainstream in America.

So far I have attended a Rugby Union and Rugby League match (and yes, those are very different), a horse race, a greyhound race, a surf life saving course, a “captain’s run”, and played lawn bowls. For the rest of the semester we will go to netball, soccer, and Australian rules football. One thing you might have noticed is that these sports are not popular in America aside from soccer. The typical sports we associate with being popular, such as American football, basketball, and baseball, are not commonly played.

One thing I found incredibly interesting was the atmosphere of the Rugby League match in comparison to any event I have been to in America. The match I went to was the “rivalry” of Sydney: the Sydney Roosters versus the South Sydney Rabbitohs. It was the match to be at, drawing in a large crowd with big opinions. I had expected the before game experience to be much like a typical rivalry crowd in the states: parking lot full of tailgates, parties going on every block up to the stadium, and a very rambunctious crowd. But that is the opposite of what I saw. If you were not attending the game you would have never even known it was happening; even on the block of the stadium, it was not jam-packed and filled with partying fans. The street looked as it always did with typical pedestrians strolling around. Also the stadium did not have packed lines, obstinate fans, or any over-the-top commercialized aspect that is typical of an American event. I was shocked. I am used to crazy lines, impossible to navigate crowds, and an overwhelming feel to most sporting events. However, while this game was filled with fans there was not a chaotic environment. This has been something I have noticed at each event I have been to: most of the crowd is there to truly enjoy the game for the love of the game itself, instead of for the commercialized and partying aspect.

It is interesting to see how sports shape each culture, and while many Australians watch American sports, the actual events occurring in Australia are drastically different from the way events occur in America.