Sport is the soothing balm for all of Australia’s ills and ‘invisible’ class divides, writes Gary Johnston.
In a world where ‘freedom’ has been hijacked by half-witted fanatics who think it means they have a right to be ignorant, bigoted and easily dudded, real freedom, of opportunity, equitability and fairness is perpetually determined by the ‘c’ word.
(No, that one, though it does feature.)
Just last week, Aussie cricketers retained the Ashes – a burnt stump inside a toy urn – thereby asserting colonial bragging rights over England, the country that invented and still practices – with extreme prejudice – the politics of class.
Take, for instance, the UK’s unfunny comedy PM Boris ‘Bozo’ Johnson, a shameless graduate of the Bullingdon Club, a private all-male outfit for exceedingly stupid, but very rich Oxford University students, noted, in its own words, for ‘wealthy members, grand banquets, and boisterous rituals’.
‘Boisterous’ rituals, such as trashing restaurants, beating up policemen and – allegedly – sticking your penile privilege into a dead pig’s mouth.
Boris didn’t do that of course. As if. What, you think he’s a charmless, privileged twat?
That was David Cameron, another entitled chinless wonder who also attained UK high political office.
Bullingdon Club First XI: Boris Johnson situated at the national front far right. David Cameron is seen above, comparatively left of centre (Image: Supplied)
Johnson, Cameron and numerous others are toffs, poshies, white entitled upper class twits whose implicit privilege is entrenched in British society, exemplified by its stranglehold on social, cultural and economic capital.
Australia of course, is often mooted as a classless society, where everyone gets a good suck on the sav, a plentiful shake of the sauce bottle, though you’ll notice that, almost exclusively, the people who claim such outrageous canards can already lavish heaps of sauce on their duplicitous porkie pies.
It’s a myth. A fair go implies a level playing field, a society free of injustice, providing opportunities in education and employment, with a strong welfare system that invests in structure and doesn’t victimise claimants as scroungers and drop kicks.
That’s not how it is in modern Australia. It never was. Privileged entitlement versus subordination is the biggest game in town and all you need is look around you to see who’s winning.
Social class is alive and well in the land of Oz. Power, influence and opportunity is ardently defended by those who possess it. In schools, universities, the law, the media, in corporate, in sport, class rules, ok?
Cricket is a class based sport. Maybe not to the same extent as polo, dressage and fiddling your tax returns but it’s definitely up there.
For only the second time in history – or at least since Australian test cricket started in the 19th Century, one of the players – a Victorian bowler called Scott Bolland, is of Indigenous heritage.
Only the second time. To put it in context, in 150 years, including Bolland himself, there have been, to date, 463 Indigenous wearers of the baggy green. Two out of 463 = 0.49%
About the same chance as being struck by lightning.
Or Barnaby Joyce being wide awake and stone-cold sober at the same time.
Steeped in tradition, Cricket is supposed to represent fair play and integrity, so much so, that many of its terms – ‘play a straight bat’, ‘have a good innings’ have become metaphors for ethical behaviour far away from the cricket square.
Even in business, certain rules are to be adhered to. Number one, two and three – make a profit.
Cricket Australia’s CEO is a man called Nick Hockley, a merchant banker – rhyming slang available on request – who sharpened his fangs on various Olympic Games organisations, before taking up position last year.
Nick Hockley’s job is to make cricket make money. Increase gains, drive down costs, Invest in an image, a buyable, sellable product. Make it attractive. Accessible.
At a price.
That’s what he does. Monetise.
Cricket is a commodity and Nick Hockley’s job is to sell it.
Scott Morrison himself, a personal friend of Shane Warne, which is akin to being a member of the Prince Andrew Appreciation Society, also is – or at least pretends to be – a fan.
He’s not a real fan. Morrison isn’t a real anything, he’s the great pretender, doesn’t have an ethical position on any subject, programmed to tell people what he thinks they want to hear, ScoMo is the ultimate salesman, perspiring with glib, oily charm, oozing blatant lies and fake sincerity, the sort of person who’d brag they could sell shit to an arsehole.
During the 2019 bush fires Morrison, chillaxing in Waikiki, tweeted that the Australian cricket team, in the midst of a game against Pakistan, would give fire-impacted communities and firefighters ‘something to cheer about’.
No worries, mate, your house is ash and so is your grandma, but the good news is we’re 6 for 666.
A bit of cricket should give those bushfires a beating, muses Scott Morrison in the summer of 2019 (Image: Twitter / Supplied)
Sport – not religion – is the opiate of the masses. Though, the words of Marx – ‘false, but a function of something real’ do sound rather familiar.
Morrison knows identifying with sport will help him politically a lot more than his religion does – (though creationist crapola is always handy for the real crackpots).
Morrison loves sport. Or pretends to. He’s got a footy team he claims to follow, he probably owns soccer scarves of every possible hue and if I’m not mistaken, as a schoolboy at a leading Sydney selective high school he allegedly played rugby union, perfectly illustrating my point about class-based sports.
He’s a good bloke. Dinky-di. Family man. One of us.
It’s an image, a phony baloney manipulation of reality, of information, cloaking a lack of transparency, double dealings in shady rooms; spinning furphies, making himself sound as if he knows, he cares.
He does care. But only about himself.
Loving sport is Australian, in the sense that not loving it is un-Australian, because sport personifies national values: ‘mateship’, ‘having a go’, social equality.
It’s a sop. Of course it is. A diversion. A con.
Morrison knows that better than most. Con men always do.
ScoMo is a trickster, a grifter, a spinner. The name of the game is getting a bit of turn, extracting life from a wicket that’s stickier than Shane Warne’s i-phone.
That said, Cricket in Australia doesn’t have exclusive rights to right wing shithousery.
Step forward – Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham, now ennobled as Lord Botham, a reward perhaps for his historical cricket skills but more likely his current persona as a right wing, Brexit supporting, anti-immigration, Tory government spokesperson.
Furthermore, in the believe it or not department, ‘Beefy’ was recently appointed Trade and Cultural Ambassador to Australia – no, honestly, I’m not making this up.
Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham with two of his intellectual equals (Image: Supplied)
Apparently, he’ll ‘bat for business’ helping firms ‘seize the opportunities’ created by the post Brexit free trade agreement. Which is just another way of saying that people – most of us – will be bowled out for a duck.
And as the proprietor of a high end Australian wine making concern, Beefy will no doubt seize the various opportunities to shamelessly make himself some big bucks.
Business as usual. New boss, same as the old boss.