Tag: State of Origin

Call it sore losing… but I wish Origin was about the game not the tribal stuff

Cultural anthropologists would have a field day if Facebook walls were physical and people were looking at what happens in May/June in Australia each year with the benefit of 200 years of hindsight.

I love sport. I love league. And I enjoy watching Origin even when my team loses. Which for the last seven years has been a pretty regular phenomenon. I enjoy a bit of the tribal aspect of sport. I get it. But I wonder at what point the “otherising” that goes on alongside sporting success is healthy – both within the Christian community and as an indicator of our culture more broadly. I get that winning is fun. Nobody likes losing, and nobody likes when a team they have some affiliation with – by choice, or by birth, loses.

But it’s a game. A sport. A contest between 17 guys who have been chosen not as representatives of a state and all that it stands for, but as 17 guys who the selectors hope will beat the other 17 guys and provide a modicum of entertainment for the masses. To invest a game of football with inane tribal parochialism is to explain why the intellectual set get dismissive of sport.

If, as Tim Keller suggests, idolatry is what happens when we take good things and make them ultimate things, then for about 6 weeks of the year, football becomes an idol for the vast majority of Queenslanders. Now it may be true that New South Welshman are just as guilty of this – I don’t know, I can’t really remember the last time New South Wales won a series, and I certainly can’t remember when New South Wales won the last series while I lived there. But I think our culture is shifting in Australia to the point where to be an “other” in Queensland, even amongst Christian circles, is an interesting and character revealing experience. It’s also an interesting, and completely non-scientific, exercise to look at what my NSW friends have been talking about on Facebook in the last 48 hours, and what my Queensland friends have been posting.

It’s possible that this is something that should be reflected on with more distance from the event, and the experience, so that accusations of “sour grapes” and hypocrisy are less likely… but from where I’m sitting, reluctantly in the trenches as a New South Wales supporter not really savouring the prospect of a seventh year of defeat, and the parochial vicarious gloating that comes with it, from residents of a state with an in-built siege mentality based on some sort of inferiority complex, a state where an unpopular Premier is lauded for getting up during a natural disaster and rousing the proletariat’s collective spirit with the tearful catch-cry “we are Queenslanders,” as though the post code one lives in is somehow a determinant of character… what’s going on isn’t really healthy (nor is the length of this incredibly complex sentence). Somehow we’ve allowed where we live, and where we’re from, to become an acceptable idol, a point of difference, something that is acceptably the butt of jokes, where to replace the punchline with other differences would probably be in breach of vilification laws around the country.

I’m not really setting out to be a killjoy, nor am I particularly offended by these examples of humour… it’s funny though, every time I say, on Facebook, or in person, that I don’t really care about the result – people call that into question. Sure. I watch the game. I like it better if we win. But I don’t lose sleep over it, and I’m certainly not going to run around producing a bunch of meme styled photos when, as it is historically inevitable, New South Wales eventually wins a series. I talk about it. I post the occasional Facebook status as part of the fun, and sometimes to bait Queenslanders into doing exactly what I’m accusing them of here – buying into cheap tribal parochialism, just so that I can turn the table on them and exert some sort of enlightened cultural superiority in a post on my blog.

Being from New South Wales means transcending the silliness of the short man syndrome that is identifying primarily by the state that you come from.

In conclusion, while I think I can say, without a shadow of hypocrisy, that I don’t care about the game at least in the way that Queenslanders do, I do care about the reaction to the result, and about the bizarre situation where suddenly it’s ok to make jokes about an other on the basis of the success of the people you affiliate yourself with. I am wondering what they say about the human condition, and about our culture more broadly.

That is all.

New South Wales State of Origin Player Ratings

Out of ten:

  1. Jarryd Hayne: 1
  2. Brett Moris: 3
  3. Beau Scott: 1
  4. Matt Cooper: 1
  5. Joel Monaghan: 1
  6. Trent Barrett: 1
  7. Mitchell Pearce: 1
  8. Michael Weyman: 0
  9. Michael Ennis: 1
  10. Brett White: 3
  11. Nathan Hindmarsh: 0
  12. Ben Creagh: 0
  13. Paul Gallen: 1
  14. Tom Leoroyd-Larrs: 1
  15. Luke O’Donnell: 2
  16. Kurt Gidley: -10

I can’t even remember who the other player for New South Wales was. He must have been invisible. If more than three of these players are picked next year we’ll lose again.

Open letter to Queensland

Dear Queensland,

Poking fun at people from outside the state because of the result of a football game they had no control over is not clever. It’s not really funny either – unless you’re a funny person.

I did not play football for New South Wales last night. Neither did 6,889,983 other New South Welshmen… ignoring that part of that population statistic are migratory Queenslanders. Nor would I have picked 70% of the chosen players to represent me on the Rugby League field.

To pick on me because of that result is ludicrous. It’s also pretty close to the dictionary definition of racism:

1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Just something to think about next time you insult me on the basis of having been born interstate.

That is all.


Nathan Campbell,

Original flavour

I don’t have much to say about the Origin. Six things in fact.

  1. Despite what Greg Inglis might like to believe – you can’t actually help what state you’re from – so bagging out losing fans on the basis of their “state of origin” seems pretty silly. Especially when your state is too dumb to maintain its “Smart State” slogan as fair and reasonable advertising. It’s not all about football people…
  2. Kurt Gidley is overrated.
  3. The Queensland Team’s dynasty will not last past next year – I predict their stars will be lured to Rugby, the UK and retirement.
  4. The New South Wales selectors should be put out to pasture – half backs should be creative, full backs fast, and wingers nimble footed.
  5. Queensland were better on the night.
  6. Phil Gould is universally annoying – every tackle last night was “an Origin tackle” – he’d have you believe that only the impressive ones fit that bill… And “out Origined” in the context of a State of Origin match just means “outplayed”… and motivational “pump up the audience” speeches before kick off only work for players, or if you don’t look like a walking cauliflower.

Feeling blue

Well, State of Origin is tonight and I’m decidedly in “under the radar” mode. Though I have been popping people’s cane toad balloons at work.

I think New South Wales will lose the series, but I like the balance of their squad. Inexperience balanced out by inexperience… at least they’ll all get good together.