Drawing on current and historical examples, discuss the role that sport plays in the construction and development of Australia’s national identity. Does sport play a positive, negative or neutral role in Australians’ view of themselves?
The role that sport plays in the construction and development of Australia’s national identity is the result of a number of social, cultural and economic processes. Sport was part of the cultural baggage that was brought out to Australia by the convicts, free settlers and the accompanying administrative personnel.
The migrant Englishman missing home could find in Australia matches between teams named after country sides and British sporting equipment was imported. Additionally the Scots held there Caledonian games and pioneered golf while the Irish played there version of football. In importing there traditional sports the British were no different from other immigrant groups such as the Germans who brought with them cross bows, target rifle shooting and later gymnastics. In an environment where the seasons did not match the accustomed months and the landscape was far from familiar, sport provided a link with what had been left behind. Nostalgia led to the adoption of many sporting activities; but others were the result of deliberate attempts by the colonial wealthy and educated classes to replicate English social life including its social structure.
Ultimately beating the mother country at there own sports became regarded as a sign of colonial maturity. An example of this being in 1882 when the Australian XI beat the Marylebone cricket club by seven runs, leading the Australasian to comment that ‘the translation of stock to this country has improved rather than impaired the physique’. (Vamplew and Stoddart, 1994, p. 206) Socially sport in Australia is viewed as a way for ‘battlers’ and oppressed people to rise up the social ladder and a way for cultural minorities to...