The siren sounds, the last wicket is taken, the winning goal is scored. One team is successful, the other laments the fact that they have not been able to gain the ultimate prize. One team gets the cup, the flag, the honour of being the winners of the whole competition. If it is a global tournament, or an American one, you can be World Champions.
The anthems are sung, the crowd cheers, the fans exult in the win. Celebrations go on depending how long it has been between championships/premierships. Posters and merchandise are bought by fans. Some players and fans get tattoos. These celebrations end eventually.
Once again the season commences anew and every year we wait for it, in dread or in expectation. We can see it coming. Another year where the teams fight it out all over again. Caught on this train of thought I found myself thinking recently; how long does a premiership last?
How Soon is Now?
They are the Premier team of the season just gone, not the premiers of the current season. That is to be determined in the passing of time, one second per second. The Australian tradition involves the unfurling of the winning premiership flag at the beginning of the following season. A flag that says this team was the best team, last year.
In this thinking a Premiership lasts not as long as you think it does. How long? At the least it lasts till the pre-season starts, which in a professional league is around four weeks. It is even less for the coaches there is about 12 maybe 24 hours of Premiership glory. After that the planning begins anew. There is the draft, injury management and de-listing of players for the coming season. Is there any end at all?
Do you see where I am going? While the previous winners are heralded they start at round one in the same place as everyone else, on zero points. Before the first game ends all teams arrive at the beginning again. It is a situation that I have found intriguing. It is one that fits to a certain pattern.
The Circle of Life and Death and Life?
For those who grow up in the western tradition time is an arrow fired forward as we travel one second per second into the future. It is a new way of seeing life and reality. Older traditions see life as a pattern that started and concluded only to begin once again. It can be a loop or a spiral that winds down and then begins at the top again. From these patterns come the concepts of reincarnation, of a continual process of creation, destruction and rebirth.
There is no ultimate end just a continual cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Consider the Phoenix, a mythical animal caught in a continual cycle of dying to be reborn again. This is so much closer to the fleeting and limited moment that is experienced by the championship winning team. Because right after that moment, there is nothing else but the next season. The end is the end. Until it begins again.
Groundhog Season, Again!
This is the cry of that often lone soul who sees the seasons shift from summer to autumn knowing the cold chill of winter looms large. Another season where they watch their friends and loved ones morph into football supporters. The pre-season rituals commence in earnest, and for some reason they happen earlier and earlier.
The weekends become filled with games on television ad nausem. Followed by that dreaded Monday morning when the winners filled with the vigour of a fresh victory proudly assert themselves over those who lost. Talk is about who won, where, how and why. The cycle of winter torture comes around again and again. A torment that only pauses and never ends.
These poor people are caught up in a concept of time that is older than the technological world of phones, computers and the internet. While the clocks count up and the days appear to shorten as time plunges ever forward at, yes, one second per second. We also experience that older time of seasons which follow each other in familiar order as our planet makes its way around the sun.
An Australian Sporting Liturgy.
Despite the technological framework what has shaped us is more earthly. These patterns are difficult to ignore as the impact on what it is to be human asserts itself in other ways. This seasonal cycle is prominent in Australian sport as summer and cricket becomes winter and football. It is a liturgy that unlike the Christian one is set to a different hemisphere.
As we enter Lent the northern hemisphere is entering Spring, in the south we are beginning Autumn. The cycle of the season beats in tune with the liturgical calendar, for the north but not for the south. Meanwhile the sporting calendar sits in rhythm to the seasons.
Though a Premiership may not last much longer than the day after the final siren. There is a continued confusion in the liturgical calendar for those not in the North. Having lived with this it may not be such an issue, though one wonders wether such a change is a contextual correction that may place the Christian message in harmony with the southern cycle rather than against it.
Phillip Hall is finally taking part in Lent this year. The lack of a certain brewed beverage is not the hardest thing to give up but its about taking part in the liturgical calender, even if the seasons do not match up with the themes.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.