Sunday, March 17, 2013
grassed off at the Adelaide Oval
“So significant is sport to Australians that an evaluation of their life without an understanding of their attitude towards sport would lead to an incomplete result.” (Geoff Cheong, “Sports Loving Australians: A Sacred Obsession,” Sacred Australia: Post Secular Considerations, edited by Makarand Paranjape, 2009, 237.)
I grew up listening to cricket on radio. Summer was about watching cricket, playing cricket, listening to cricket. When it finished in New Zealand, different time zones meant that the radio would take us to Australia for the final hours play of each and every test match. Across the static, I’d listen to these hard accents describe Boxing Day in Melbourne, the bounce of the WACA and the grass of Adelaide Oval.
Today I got some of that grass. Four pieces of turf from the Oval. The Adelaide Oval is under re-construction. It includes a resurfaces. So 2000 pieces of turf from Adelaide Oval were offered to the public. First come, first served, from 9 am Sunday morning.
I went for an early morning drive, arrived about 8:20 am, to find a long queue, stretching up the hill and down the road.
By about 9:30 am, I had my stash and was excitedly texting a friend, offering them a piece of the action.
It’s just grass. Just atoms and dirt. Yet on this grass history has been made and identity expressed. Dreams have been shattered and joy has been gained. For White Australia, so shallow rooted in this red land, sporting grounds become a way to express a sense of place.
While some of the below is a bit dated, Anglican Vicar, Geoff Cheong writes:
From a Christian perspective Australian sport could be said to carry the marks of the great Crucifixion/Resurrection story. White Australian history began with death to England and its ways, and the pain of suffering and rejection. Today Australians regularly celebrate their sport as an expression of triumph in life. Relatively small in number, nothing deters them from ever tackling the Goliaths of international sport. They continue to count each and every victory as an affirmation of their own valued identity. (Geoff Cheong, “Sports Loving Australians: A Sacred Obsession,” Sacred Australia: Post Secular Considerations, edited by Makarand Paranjape, 2009, 250.)