Australian people’s lives are greatly affected by sport. In Australia, most people will either participate in sport or watch sport, wether it at the arena or on television, whatever you do it would be hard not be caught up in all the hype surrounding the sport. A lot of people will participate on weekends at a social level, but some people will play representative sport, that is the reason that many Australians have come to think of themselves as a great sporting nation. It is these ideas that have allowed Australian athlete’s to become world champions.
People participate in sport not only for the physical values but the values of team spirit, sportsmanship, relaxation and for some financial rewards. Sport is – one or more people competing against another team or individual to see who will win. Sport also is – a game played at a non-competitive level. Some people however believe that competitive sport causes narrow-mindedness or that winning and competition lead to individualism and selfishness. Sport is open to people of any age or race. Anyone can participate in sport, however, as you get older you may be limited physically to the amount or sport you play. Some other limitations may be the resources available, your age, your time available or the costs involved. A survey was said to be conducted by the courier mail titled, “Yes, We Really Are Sports Mad”. The survey had the following results, 88% of people in capital cities play sport with 1 in every 2 of those people taking part in at least four sports a week. Swimming was seen to be the favourite sport among participants with tennis, fishing, snooker and pool close behind. Also in this survey, it was said 2 out of 3 Australians that live in capital cities will go to at least one sporting match a year.
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The reason a large number of Australian lives are affected by sport is that you hear about it every day, whether it be on the radio, in a newspaper or on television. The Courier-Mail devotes a section of the paper just to sport and so does the news services. On Foxtel and Galaxy, there are two sports channels and on Optus Vision, there are three. On the AM radio stations, there will be three or four minutes every half hour on the sport. A large section of the media is devoted to the broadcast of sport – everybody had herd before they arrived home from school or work on Monday the 8th of September that Patrick Rafter had won the singles title at the American Open tennis championship, this is an example of how fast the media spreads the news about Australian sporting stars.
Anyone between the ages of 16 and 65 will watch some sport on television during the year. Cricket is the most-watched sport on TV although tennis, Rugby League, Australian Rules Football, Motor Racing and Basketball also draw large crowds (‘Yes, we really are sports mad’. The Courier-Mail). Results were poled in 1987, stating that watching television was an Australians’ favourite pastime. The informal sport was 9th on the results poled and organized sport was 11th (See Table 1, Appendix). During an inquiry in 1992, it found that substantial numbers of teenage girls were quitting sport (Williams, Peter, Health and Physical Education, 1995). In Victoria, during the 70’s the government recognized the inclination in “spectatoritis” – people were spending more time watching sport on TV than participating themselves (Williams, 1995: 103). In 1975, a large proportion of the people of Victoria were asked the question – do you feel your physical fitness to be important? With the majority believing their physical fitness to be important, but not willing to do anything about it.
At the Atlanta Olympics, Australians were recognised not only individually but also as a country that they were a force in sport not to reckoned with. This was demonstrated in the 1500m men’s freestyle, when Kieren Perkins, who no one thought would win came back from what seemed were insurmountable odds and won. Perkins received a second reward for his 1500m performance with the honour of being named Australian sportsman of the year. Kathy Watt was also rewarded with the honour of sportswoman of the year, for her efforts in the Olympics, namely cycling. If Australia sends performers like this to the following Olympic’s in Sydney and Athens, Australia should continue winning medals.
Without a doubt, I think that it is clear to say that sport plays a major role in Australian society. I think that it is also safe to say that the television viewers of the sport are ever-increasing and so are the attendances at the venues – a crowd of 70 000 people is expected at a game Aussie Rules. Participation in sport is declining with many people dropping out at school. Programs are always being introduced to try and remedy the increasing loss of participation in sport such as the Women In Sport program, which is designed pacifically to encourage the need for women in sport. The participation levels in sport are unsure but Australians will never forget the good times of not only winning but the enjoyment of the sport.
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