Spectator sports, like reality TV without a plot, are unbearably dull.


MB: Hey Adam, I’m tired of keeping it secret.

I despise sports. Not to play sports – that’s all right – just to watch sports.

I mean, I just find it dreadfully boring.

It’s sort of just screaming and colors, and it doesn’t help that I really didn’t grow up watching it.

It feels like we all know that athletes are essentially only well-paid reality stars who improvise every show as we hold on to every tawdry aspect of their success and personal lives.

Often I wonder if the only reason we value Dustin Martin more than, say, Kim Kardashian, and keep male athletes as “heroes” is that they are primarily male television reality stars and are thus deemed legitimate. It can only sound like men like sports with all the shouting and fist bumping and medium-strength beer, since it is only socially appropriate to sob and hug your buddies when your team wins the grand finals.

And for that, you could wait 40 years! As a culture, couldn’t we just let men be vulnerable? Then I wouldn’t have to endure another interview on “leaving it all on the field” and “doing it for the boys” Permission for fans at the “mental health” Sydney test called “ridiculous” as Berala cluster worries authoritiesRead on I think women’s sport is good, but my top comment (re: dull and incomprehensible) still stands. Nevertheless, I write this to you with a very real desire to be convincing.

My friend has given me a 2021 Carlton membership, so it looks like I’m going to be watching this (deeply mediocre team) whether or not I like it.

I would like to like that. AM: Oh Matilda, if you have to spend a season with Carlton (my condolences), look at it this way: culture is sport.

Sports is all theatre.

I no longer live there, but when I first moved to Melbourne, on a Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed watching an AFL game at the MCG (night games are not the same).

A great game is rich in detail, like any good story: it has characters, plots and sub-plots, achievements and defeats, heroes and villains.

Challenges are resolved.

It’s not fake, unlike reality TV – the travails are true and unfold live. And unlike reality TV, the story is shared – in normal times, with thousands of fans, it can unfold in a stadium or arena. When a crowd rides the waves of a competition together, there is a feeling of solidarity.

This shared reality is, as we know after 2020, not a given. On toxic masculinity: it exists. In most walks of life, there are morons, but their conduct is far more likely to have negative effects than it was a couple of years ago. At best, the clichés of dumb news criticism are dull.

I’m all for something that gets people to show love for each other as far as hugging is concerned.

My unscientific guess is that heterosexual men are more relaxed than previous generations with man-to-man hugs off the field. But back to art: seeing talented individuals be talented is amazing, even if that often means separating the artist from the art.

Consider these (exclusively male) examples: by the late, great Diego Maradona, the objective of the century.

The incredible talent of the finest Australian cricketer in the last 70 years.

The last quarter of the 2016 AFL Grand Final, if you can.

I am a lifelong Geelong fan, but the second premiership of the Western Bulldogs, and their first in 62 years, is almost the best soccer I’ve ever seen.

Enjoy! Enjoy! MB: Okay, Adam, I think I may be able to get down with some sports theater, some artistic heroes and villains on the field head-to-head (although I’d rather see it on a real stage, with better dialogue). I sat down with my friend to really let it rip, cold beer in hand and Carlton scarf and hat on (it was 35 degrees, I don’t recommend that thing). I have to admit, as much as I could see that the people were talented in the clips you sent, I didn’t feel the talent and excitement I had hoped for.

But my partner made an interesting point: if you’re just looking at the highlights, it’s the opposite of why sports are good. It’s about battling through all those dull stuff,


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