At the outset I want to be clear that my interest in any sport is zero. I admit I was fascinated by an ice hockey match I saw on TV when I visited Canada some years ago- all that mayhem and violence, and all done in less than an hour.
So the State of Origin is done and dusted for another year. The annual ritual in which teams from “Queensland” and “New South Wales” vie for the opportunity to let Queensland win in a best of three series. It always gets Queenslanders much more excited than the population of New South Wales, which approaches the whole thing with a measure of boredom.
What most people don’t realise is that the whole series was designed to give Queensland a chance. Back in the day, there was only one decent Rugby League competition and that was Sydney. That’s where the money was and the money attracted the best players from all over the country (which in this context means NSW and Qld.) There used to be an annual match between the two states but of course NSW always won it, so they changed it to state of origin so the Queenslanders had a chance.
Suddenly Queensland, who have always felt inferior to NSW in every way except for the weather, had a chance of beating NSW in footy. And when Rugby League went National with the NRL, the State of Origin kept its old format although the relentless marketing department extended it as far as they dare.
I have never watched a State of Origin match- in fact I can’t remember the last sport event I watched- but I can tell you this:
- The format is outdated and due to be overhauled to reflect the current national league, or maybe just canned altogether. I really don’t care. I think even Queenslanders are getting bored with it all judging by my facebook feed which used to explode with maroon after each match.
- The NSW team will rarely win a series because they just don’t care enough to win.
- The real enthusiasm in League is with the Premiership because that’s where the money is. Interstate matches are a bore and irrelevant to the real show, so why bother with a manufactured rivalry, except to get a few more millions out of the TV rights?
So there you go. Informed commentary on an irrelevant contest in a sport only played by a handful of people in half a dozen countries by someone who has zero interest in any of it.
Why did I just spend half an hour writing about this? I really don’t know, except to say that I observe a lot of things in our culture that amuse me, and this thing of manufactured rivalry is right up there as one of the more amusing. It’s a bit like the AFL having their annual match of “Mixed Rules” with the Irish Gaelic Football people because they are both in sports that nobody anywhere plays- how tragic is that?