Sunday, September 29, 2013

Corporatisation of sport wipes out community with the stroke of a pen

Vanguard October 2103 p. 5

(Above, One of Australia's oldest football teams, Port Adelaide, in the 1896 magenta colours)

On Sunday 1 September, the local football team, the Magpies, of the working class area of Port Adelaide played its last game at its home ground Alberton Oval.

The team played its first game in 1870, but like Fitzroy football team in Melbourne, it became a victim of the corporatization of sport. With the stroke of a pen, in August this year the powers that be decided that the only Port Adelaide team that could be in the local South Australian team would be the reserves team of the AFL Port Power team. This team would not even be allowed to play any games at Alberton Oval and it must sever all ties with the local area and the traditional country zone on Eyre Peninsula, the recruitment and development zones of the traditional local Port Adelaide Magpies team.
The local active supporters and members of the Port Adelaide Magpies number about 4,000 people. To many of them, their local football club is like a second family. Weekend games a social outing, more than a game and compared with the prices of AFL games, affordable. Children admitted free. Now all that is gone. No wonder it caused such emotional scenes at that last game at the home ground.

Enough To Make A Grown Man Cry
On the following Monday, 2 September, the Adelaide Advertiser had a picture of a Magpie supporter in tears as the reality of a big part of his community being destroyed hit home.

As I was reading this paper at a local cafe on the way to work, some well-heeled people in the shop were also reading it and laughing that a ‘grown man could be crying over the winding up of a football team’.
I turned around and asked him how he would feel if the central part of his community that had existed for over one hundred years was destroyed with the stroke of a pen.

His laughter turned to a frown and silence. His body language told me that he now understood.

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