Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winners and Losers

The Ashes Urn

Before we all get too busy with last minute shopping and office parties, I’ll squeeze in another quick post before Christmas.

Australians love their sport.

Scratch that.  Australians are madly fanatical, completely biased in support of, highly emotionally overcharged and manic about their sport. Here in Australia, excellent performance leads to ebullient panegyrics in the papers filled with words like ‘greatest-ever’, ‘ historic’ ‘unbeatable’, ‘century’, ‘one of a kind’.  Players, coaches, administrators alike are garlanded with superlatives and showered with easy praise. Poor performance, on the other hand, whether on the field, pitch, oval, or in the pool or on the bike, is a cause of deep national injury.  Brickbats and dark rage fill the columns and airwaves. Gloom is everywhere. Doomsday will dawn the next time the overpaid, underperforming, traitorous bed-wetters take the field as surely as the sun rises in the East.

Today, Thursday, 16 December, 2010, appears to be looming as yet another one of those be Great Days of Judgment.  You see, it is the third game of the Ashes.  For the uninitiated, this is THE great granddaddy of all Australian sporting contests. The Ashes. A 5 game series of cricket matches held every other year between Australia and England.  The prize is pitiful: a small (6 inches) porcelain urn in which are interred the symbolic ‘ashes’ of the game of cricket itself, which reportedly died when a plucky Australian team had the audacity to beat the English at their own sport. On their own soil, no less!

That was 1882. Every two years since the two countries spend their summers battling for the urn and bragging rights. It is cricket’s oldest and bitterest rivalry and one that the Aussies have dominated, especially since the late 1980s.  In the past twenty years England has played like retards and the Aussies like Olympian gods. So lopsided had the contests become that they had deteriorated into nasty Brit-baiting opportunities in which the entire country gleefully participated.

But 5 years ago a plucky English team won the Ashes back and the rot has been spreading ever since. Never mind that 3 years ago the Aussies totally wiped the floor with the English when they came Down Under.  But then in 2008 the Brits came on strong again and after early jitters re-captured the urn.  At the moment, they lead the series 1-0, the first ‘test’ (match) being a draw. 

Australia’s media has been reading the tea leaves and sees nothing but crap. ‘We’re finished.’ ‘Idiots. Wimps’. ‘Panic merchants.’  ‘All over.’ ‘No chance.’ Such are the sentiments directed toward the home team.

There is much about Australia to like. And one of those things is their fighting sporting spirit. There is no better time to back an Australian team then when they are written off.

And so today the drama will unfold in Perth. Watch out England, I say.

And in the spirit of gaming I offer a selection of songs about sports, games, gambling, losers and champions.

May the best team win!

Track List

1.     Gettin’ Kicked Off, Havin’ Fun.  Betty Davis
2.     Play to Win.  Al Green
3.     Racehorse Haynes. Tom Russell   
4.     Stickball (I Mean You). Johnny Griffin and Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis Quintet
5.     They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play).  The Spinners
6.     Sport. Joe Quarterman and Free Soul
7.     Bad Loser. Jimmy Rushing
8.     Sportin’ Life Blues. Rev. Gary Davis
9.     The Race is On. The Grateful Dead
10.  3rd Base, Dodger Stadium.  Ry Cooder
11.  Gambler’s Blues. B.B.King
12.  Cassius Clay. Dennis Alcapone
13.  The Winner Takes it All. Abba
14.  Games. Bobby Womack
15.  Playing Your Game, Baby. Barry White
16.  Kick it Around. James Hunter
17.  The World’s Worst Loser. George Jones
18.  Games Without Frontiers. Peter Gabriel
19.  Champion. Buju Banton

To download the set click here.

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