By STEVE MASCORD
THERE are still a number of small indicators of cultural differences between Australia and the United Kingdom, even in this homegonised world.
The Australian penchant for chancing, maybe even for gambling, is exemplified thousands of times a day at ATMs. People form lines in front of each machine, trying to guess which will move more quickly. An older person or someone with lots of shopping at the front? Get out of that queue!
Here in England, almost without exception, people form one orderly line and split to whichever ATM (cashpoint, to most of them) becomes available first.
In recent weeks I have seen another phenomenon in England which I don’t think would ever occur in Australia: the masses having sympathy for the taxman.
When news broke that multi-nationals like Google, Amazon and Starbucks were avoiding tax by funnelling profits through their overseas affiliates, people were outraged to the extent of setting up Facebook action pages and organising boycotts.
“That’s schools and roads that weren’t being built” was the reasoning.
I know this might be a cliched way of looking at national stereotypes but my old AAP sports editor Bill Allan used to say cliches are there for a reason – there is inherent truth in them. And I find it hard to imagine too many Australians siding with the tax man in any circumstances.
Which is why the NSW government’s new policy on suburban grounds is interesting.
In the UK, the European Union’s plan to give money to wealthy professional soccer clubs was panned in the press this week. But Australians tend to pan governments for not giving professional sporting clubs money for ground upgrades.
I am not prepared to come out and say Leichhardt, Campbelltown, Brookvale, Penrith and Kogarah do not deserve more funding. In the short to medium term, they probably do. But in the end, clubs have the discretion to take their bigger games to bigger stadia. Do you, the tax- and rate- payer, want five or six Sydney Football Stadium’s to pop up around the city, one for each NRL club?
That is, if it comes out of your tax and rates … if it came from the NRL’s $1.025 billion TV rights then perhaps your answer would be different. It’s easy parochial mileage to bleat about the death of suburban grounds but the move away from them – just like the retreat from shoulder charges and playing concussed – is progress. Complain all you like, it’s going to happen.
Eventually, we need to let the government fund grassroots sport and let big time professional sport fund itself. John Grant keeps talking about the “business” of rugby league – relying less on taxpayer’s cash is one of the consequences of this change in focus.
I will say this: if rugby league cannot survive without poker machine income, it doesn’t deserve to survive at all.
NEXT Monday is officially Sir Kevin Sinfield Day, in honour of England’s current captain.
The day has been declared by Leeds Rhinos so we know it will be observed worldwide. We all know that on Christmas Day we give presents. At Easter we give Easter eggs.
What should we do to mark Sinfield Day?
Perhaps, kick a goal – literally or figuratively. Either boot a Steeden between the posts at your local park or ask for a raise or get engaged.
Perhaps you could watch Seinfeld, since that’s how Kevin’s name was spelt in a match program during an early representative appearance.
Or shave your hair so you look like you’re balding, since BBC commentator Claire Balding said Sinfield was “the most impressive sportsman I’ve seen”.
Write in an tell Discord how you spent Kevin Sinfield Day.
FEEDBACK now and thanks for all the comments, on various platforms including leaguehq.com.au and stevemascord.com.
By STEVE MASCORD