The Australian Journal
of Anthropology

The Official Journal of
The Australian Anthropological Society

ISSN: 1035-8811

Volume 13, Number 3, December 2002
(Special Issue 14 “Anthropology and Sport”)

Introduction: Anthropology and Sport
Catherine Palmer
Maori Sport and Cultural Identity in Australia
Paul Bergin

Sport is an important aspect of cultural identity for New Zealand Maori migrants living in Australia. Maori sporting endeavours, especially at festivals such as the Taki Toa Tournament in New South Wales, often reveal distinctive Maori features of cultural performance, in the rituals prior to a game, in the spirited manner with which a game is played, and in the whânau (large/extended family) spirit of belonging and celebration that is encouraged after a game.
However, notwithstanding the occasional Maori tournament or festival, Maori sporting participation in Australia is not restricted to an ‘ethnic ghetto’. Widespread Maori involvement in sport has provided an important avenue for Maori migrants to mix socially with Aboriginal and other Australians in their local communities, and to gain acceptance, respect and, in some cases, economic advancement.
Many first-generation Maori migrants display a keen sense of a New Zealand rather than an Australian identity when it comes to trans-Tasman international sport. Transnational links are also important for Australian Maori who visit New Zealand with sporting teams and stay on various marae (tribal meeting places). The experience of ‘Maori culture’ and hospitality offered by their New Zealand kinsfolk may have a significant influence upon the sporting visitors’ subsequent development of Maori cultural identity.

Home and Away: The Grounding of New Football Teams in Perth, Western Australia
Roy Jones

Metropolitan sporting, and particularly football, competitions were established in all of Australia’s capital cities about a century ago. Characteristically, they were comprised of teams from and were supported by the inhabitants of working class, inner suburbs. These competitions were the primary foci of Australians’ sporting interest and loyalty for almost a century. But, with the shift of public attention and private capital to national competitions, the former stadia of many local clubs have become redundant spaces in what are now gentrifying inner suburbs. Simultaneously new, and even old, national league teams have sought larger, more modern (near) city centre venues for their operations. In this context, two new national league teams in Perth—Fremantle Dockers and Perth Glory—have experienced considerable challenges in establishing both physical ‘homes’ and local identities. These have included both the supplanting of traditional local clubs and the placating of new kinds of inner suburban residents.

Surfing in the Third Millennium: Commodifying the Visual Argot
David Lanagan

The practice of surfing has often been at odds with the mores of wider society, to the point where surfers have been described in the media as rotten, long-haired, unwashed drug addicts, or as jobless junkies. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of surfing and an increase in the consumption of surfing related commodities. This increase in popularity is largely due to the marketing practices of the business interests that are involved in surfing, which has appropriated its images and sold them to a rapidly expanding and lucrative market.
This paper will outline how the commodification of surfing’s visual style, and the meanings that are symbolised by this development, have had a three-fold effect on the sport. First, surfing has been shifted away from the beach into quite different contexts; second, surfing as understood by the wider society has been altered and; third, the commodifying practices of business interests have transferred the symbolic ownership of the sport from surfers to surfing capital.

Discourses of Deception: Cheating in Professional Running
Peter G. Mewett

Cheating, it is claimed, is anathema to sport. But is this the case? In this paper it is argued that cheating is integral to modern sport, that the model of sport as ‘fair play’ is simply an ideological guise of amateurism. The paper focuses on the sport of professional running which, since its origins in the eighteenth century, has been a gambling sport. Strategies involving cheating to manipulate wins, or losses, have featured in this sport as ways of increasing the probability of striking successful wagers. Such strategies are an accepted part of professional running: participants anticipate and expect others to be playing it in this way. However, a distinction is made between what is referred to in the paper as ‘clean’ cheating and ‘dirty’ cheating. The former is an accepted way of the sport, the latter occurs but is deprecated. The paper explores these different forms of cheating and the athletes’ responses to them.
Through a focus on the discourses of success in capitalist society, a model of cheating is developed to interpret such practices. Within the context of professional running, a working class sport, it is argued that, given the habitus of its practitioners, ‘success’ may be measured in terms of monetary gains and the ‘kick-on’ in life that these might provide. Cheating practices may serve to enhance the probability of success and social mobility. Given the relatively short career spans of sports people and the costs involved in developing the requisite skills, cheating may promote success and establish a financial base for post-sport careers. The paper concludes that cheating in sport can be anticipated as a feature of an acquisitive capitalist society.

Practical Nostalgia and the Critique of Commodification: On the ‘Death of Hockey’ and the National Hockey League
Philip Moore

This paper explores some uses of nostalgia in two accounts of ‘the death of hockey’ in the professional National Hockey League of North America. The two accounts examined offer critiques of the commodification of the game some 26 years apart, in 1972 and in 1998. The argument developed here is that nostalgia can be more than just a longing or a yearning for an unattainable golden era located some unspecified time in the past, when social life was well organised and clearly understood, but rather that nostalgia can also take on a tough critical edge when its practical uses are recognised and exploited. Couched as practical nostalgia, such interpretations of the past provide a vision that can be used as a way of creating a space for the development of a critique of the present and opening up possibilities for the future. In the public culture of hockey practical nostalgia can be used to articulate a theoretical approach for understanding the ongoing commodification of the game.

‘Shit Happens’: The Selling of Risk in Extreme Sport
Catherine Palmer

This article details the particular commodification of those high risk, high adrenalin activities known collectively as ‘extreme sports’. A variety of commercial operators now offer relative sporting neophytes the chance to take part in mountaineering, snow boarding or canyonning adventures that are billed as being ‘high thrill, low risk’. It is the way in which the risk and danger involved in these activities is discursively managed that is of particular interest for this article. The argument developed is that in selling extremity through a range of primarily tourist-oriented commercial avenues, the very real prospect of death and injury has been stripped from the activity itself. To elaborate this position, this article draws on several sporting disasters, including the much publicised, ill-fated ascent of Mount Everest in 1996, and the Interlaken canyonning disaster of 1999, as well as the burgeoning literary and media genre—the made-for-Hollywood ‘adventure saga’.

Fixing a Match or Two: Cricket, Public Confession and Moral Regeneration
Joan Wardrop

‘In a moment of stupidity and weakness I allowed Satan and the world to dictate terms to me. The moment I took my eyes off Jesus my whole world turned dark.’ With these words, the former South African cricket captain, Hansie Cronje, publicly confessed that he had been a cheat, attempted to make peace with the United Cricket Board, located his fall from grace within a peculiarly fundamentalist Christian frame of guilt and atonement, and subtly connected himself and his corruption with a set of understandings about the simultaneous rigidity and vulnerability of the moral order that have grown over the past two centuries to inform, underpin and idealise Afrikaner collective notions of self. That moral order and its vulnerabilities, I will suggest here, have framed a collective identity and a collective sense of both victimhood and entitlement, within which any act becomes acceptable and possible if it can be deemed necessary.

Book Reviews

Ildiko Beller-Hann and Chris HannTurkish Region: State, Market and Social Identities on the East Black Sea Coast. . . . . . . . . . [Christopher Houston]
Lewis Roberts Binford Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets [Peter White]
Anne Chambers and Keith Stanley Chambers Unity of Heart: Culture and Change in a Polynesian Atoll Society [Bill Geddes]
Marcus Colchester and Christian Erni (eds) Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas in South and Southeast Asia [Alberto Gomes]
Michelle Ruth Gamburd The Kitchen Spoon’s Handle: Transnationalism and Sri Lanka’s Housemaids . . . . . . . . . . . . . [Rohan Bastin]
David N. Gellner and Eric Hirsch (eds) Inside Organizations: Anthropologists at Work [Tess Lea]
G. Gray (ed.), J. C. Goodale, R. Fink, J. Beckett, L. Hiatt and J. A. Barnes Before It’s Too Late: Anthropological Reflections, 1950-1970 [Kenneth Maddock]
John N. Gray At Home in the Hills: Sense of Place in the Scottish Borders [Gretchen Poiner]
Kees Grijns and Peter J. M. Nas (eds) Jakarta-Batavia: Social-cultural Essays [Patrick Guiness]
Stephen Gudeman The Anthropology of the Economy: Community, Market, Culture [Chris Gregory]
Sarah Lamb White Saris and Sweet Mangoes: Aging, Gender and Body in North India [Michael Fine]
Michael O’Hanlon and Robert Welsch (eds) Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s-1930s [James Urry]
Sherry B. Ortner Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering and Judy and Tashi Tenzing Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest [William Newell]
Adrian Peace A World of Fine Difference: The Social Architecture of a Modern Irish Village [Michael Allen]
George W. Stocking, Jr. Delimiting Anthropology: Occasional Inquiries and Reflections [James Urry]
Colin Tatz Aboriginal Suicide is Different: A Portrait of Life and Self-Destruction [Leonie Cox]
Roger Tol, Kees Van Dijk and Greg Acciaioli (eds)Authority and Enterprise Among the Peoples of South Sulawesi [Campbell McKnight]
Penny Van Esterik Materializing Thailand [Andrea Whittaker]
Short Notices: New Readers in Anthropology

| Back to top | Back to contents index |