Amidst the angry angst of umpire abuse and the bastardry of booing at not just their apparent misdemeanours but at players of teams we love to hate, there exists a lighter and brighter aspect seldom acknowledged.
It may be that some supporters should control their acrimonious attacks of vile and vituperative verbiage, but my experience at the football over many decades is that much of the crowd commentary is colourful, creative and clever, inspiring a jocular appreciation of laughter at the profound, psychological insights of passionate supporters. Indeed, they are pacifying and evoke a placid calm.
Undoubtedly, many fans at times scream slurs of silly, even stupid sarcasm, but these are oft interspersed with wise, witty and even weird words that arouse amusement and applause from others nearby, especially me who enjoys the convivial camaraderie of the football collective.
Moreover, this foray into fun offers a fortunate forum for footy therapy, easing tension, nerves and anxiety to herald a healthy and more importantly, harmless, environment that avoids violence of the physical kind. It almost seems as if some supporters revel in another contest in the crowd; a combative and competitive challenge to see who can outsmart and outjest their opponents barracking for the opposing team.
If your own players seem unenergetic without intensity and aggression on the field, especially if the team is getting thrashed, the erudite comments off the field engender their own excitement and entertainment that transcend the boring banality of the bounce of the ball. Furthermore, errant decisions by the umpire are irrelevant as no amount of free kicks can affect the outcome, working to control the wild abuse that slips into silent insignificance.
Importantly, the AFL and its Behavioural Awareness Officers should adopt a less stringent and strict approach by recognising not all vociferous vocals are gravely serious nor portend of a punch. Their awareness needs to discern the difference between a smile and a scowl on supporters’ faces, applying a sense of humour to the occasion and learning to laugh at the adverse antics around the grounds. They should also joyfully participate in the merriment of some of the jovial fans, thus making a positive contribution to alleviating potential conflict.
Maybe too, some over-protective parents with children should be encouraged to enjoy the enlivening atmosphere rather than fear a noisy, loud and boisterous supporter behind or in front of them, expletives deleted of course. Yet saying this, some surveys have revealed many of these same words echo quite frequently in schoolyard environs.
It is imperative the conduct at the footy is under control, but that should not imperil or intimidate the commentary in the crowd. As an old saying goes: Laughter is the best medicine and it may just be more religious reality than frivolous fantasy at the footy.