We’re in September now.
It’s an awkward month. Hay-fever kicks in for the more delicate of us. Some senior retail executives begin bracing themselves for a tough FY12 after less than spectacular annual results. And like an 18-year-old test tube baby knocking on a sperm donor’s door for the first time, cricket makes its nervous return to the back pages – a section currently engorged by various forms of rugby.
Meanwhile, athletics hovers there and thereabouts, ditto tennis and golf. It’s something that sports fans have to get their heads around every year: the transition from traditional winter sports to summer sports.
Usually, September means one thing and one thing only. And that’s finals football. Carlton fans in Lygon Street cafes discuss “Juddy’s groin” in hushed tones over their morning macchiatos, while conversations on Sydney’s CityRail trains tend towards whether the “Tigers can pull a ’05.” Entire cities move into states of apprehension as The Big Game fast approaches.
But this September sees a new bedfellow emerge. The Rugby World Cup will add some 44 extra days of oval-shaped mayhem to an already saturated football calendar. You can almost hear the sound of Herald writer Spiro Zavos’ knuckles cracking in preparation for various RWC-related columns. Come next week, Rebel Sports will be fresh out of IRB-approved Wallabies paraphernalia.
Holy fuck, how will we cope?
Here’s the truth: some of us won’t.
While most Australian males will back themselves to watch every single match and every minute of every code, it’s inevitable that sleep deprivation will kick in and sick days will be taken. Add to this the extra number of beers that the average guy will consume over the next month and a half and it is almost a given that bar/nightclub violence will escalate as a result.
What is the government doing about this?
Nothing. By sitting on their hands while a veritable avalanche of sport is about to hit our screens, Australia is about as prepared for the resultant chaos as northern Sumatra was for the 2004 Tsunami.
And once the rugby fest is over, the clean-up will begin. But how will we adjust to the new landscape, once this epic tidal wave has run its course over mainland Australia?
There will be a few months of sporting bewilderment – especially if we somehow happen to win the Rugby World Cup. We will not know what to do. Will it be too early to embrace state cricket? Can we suddenly turn our attentions to the A-League?
ThePublicApology has campaigned for federal and state government intervention in regards to a number of schemes in previous editions. But in all honesty, nothing can be done to seamlessly transition sporting fans from the rugby to cricket seasons. People will adjust at their own rate; some will be unwilling to let go of the football season, others are already eager that that chapter be done with.
Australia’s win in the first test against Sri Lanka has gone some way towards raising national awareness that, yes, cricket has resumed normal practice. But it is still far from the national consciousness. Additionally, Sally Pearson’s 110 metre hurdles victory at the World Championships is a gentle reminder that the London 2012 Olympics are less than a year away. However, these achievements still sit firmly in the shadow of Football Fever.
But eventually we’ll hit full-stride. Once the football ends, conversations about the Big Bash league will no longer seem ridiculous. Our Australian cricketers will return to Australian soil after engaging in test matches on the Subcontinent in mainly unpronounceable cities. And once the Boxing Day test kicks off at the MCG, it’ll be like its round 10 in the NRL again. But for cricket.
Then, we’ll be ready. But not now. There’s too much fucking football on.
By Dave Edwards