Not surprisingly, the
mail poured into [email protected]
after I admitted last week that I was having trouble converting myself into an
instant round ball fan (just add water!) in time for the World Cup.

Maybe the Socceroos’
barnstorming finish last night will swing some numbers their way but the email
score was almost a 3-1 ratio from Crikey readers agreeing that it was hard to
become an immediate convert in time for Germany. I suppose this doesn’t mean much,
except that it turns out I’m not alone in struggling to manufacture passion on
demand.

The feedback was
strong the other way. One disappointing aspect was that most of the detractors
fell back on the usual abuse of anybody who doesn’t accept soccer’s worldwide
dominance, with the strange argument that sports such as AFL or even rugby league must be crap because they
are “provincial”, and that people like me are, as one writer put it, in a
“Little Australia” universe.

For example, Malcolm
wrote: “If Australia is, all too late in the piece, being faced with the truth
that soccer’s star is in the ascendant, well that’s a good thing. If ignorant,
intolerant and resentful AFL fans
are upset that despite sellout crowds at the Gee, their game is a minority sport,
not only unplayed in the rest of the world but even in most of their own
country, that’s their problem. They’ll have to wait until the Grand Final for
their place in the sun.” He was one of the more polite ones.

But plenty are with me
in being only mildly interested in Australia’s World Cup adventure. “While I wish the
Socceroos well, I can’t get interested in the World Cup. We tried
watching some of the England-Paraguay game on the weekend, but we turned it
off before half time out of sheer boredom. I recall a comment on soccer
that the crowd is more interesting than the game and I think it’s on the
money”, wrote Gary.

“Me too. I watched the
English win last night with the studious intent of a Labrador at a home video
night, but like all competing codes couldn’t feel the hunger”, wrote Alan from
Fremantle.

“Sadly, no idea …
btw… when can we see a ‘5.90 billion don’t give a rats about AFL forum’?” asked Steve from Sydney.

And so it goes, for
and against. What it comes down to is that those “for” the world game will
always argue that however many billion can’t be wrong, while those “against” –
or, like me, “neither here nor there” – will watch matches like
England-Paraguay and scratch their heads.

Peter Fray

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