Opinion: It’s more than a game ... it’s tribalism

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
West Coast Eagles bring the Premiership Cup back to Langley Park, Perth, in 2018, attracting a crowd of thousands.
Camera IconWest Coast Eagles bring the Premiership Cup back to Langley Park, Perth, in 2018, attracting a crowd of thousands. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

For the love of the game... AFL, soccer, rugby, hockey — it looks like in WA, at least, our sport is getting back to normality.

Games are being televised and our local teams have begun formal training and matches in some cases.

The reasons this is such an important thing are many.

For most people, first and foremost it means they get to follow their teams again, both on the pitch and off.

It’s a wide-held belief that supporting a sports team heralds back to tribal times and still has tribalism at its very core.

Uniforms, chants, songs, even dances, harken back to when our ancestors warred between themselves hundreds, even thousands of years ago. It seems being part of a tribe holds, perhaps not the same relevance as it did in the past, but remains significant enough to affect many of our daily lives.

The same goes for our own teams, whether it’s A-grade hockey or D-grade softball.

Tribalism exists where we see it, where we gather together under a banner and compete against other teams. I would argue belonging to these types of tribes holds even more significance to our daily lives. I know dozens of people involved with grassroots sports teams and none would say their involvement starts and stops on the field. Being part of a team is so much more than that. Training, fundraising, passing on skills to others, the list goes on and on.

Our sporting teams are the heart and soul of our communities, they are so much more than just a kick about or run-around on a Saturday. For many, it is one of, (if not the main) activity of the family’s life. Whether it’s following the Eagles or Dockers or playing for Murch or Australs, tribalism underpins so much of what we do.

I am sure I am not alone in being delighted that WA has done so well that we get this back so soon.

Well done to all in WA.

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