The Sydney Cricket Ground: Sport and the Australian Identity

Nathan Saad

Abstract


This paper explores the interrelationship between sport and culture in Australia and seeks to determine the extent to which sport contributes to the overall Australian identity. It uses the Syndey Cricket Ground (SCG) as a case study to demonstrate the ways in which traditional and postmodern discourses influence one’s conception of Australian identity and the role of sport in fostering identity. Stoddart (1988) for instance emphasises the utility of sports such as cricket as a vehicle through which traditional British values were inculcated into Australian society. The popularity of cricket in Australia constitutes perhaps what Markovits and Hellerman (2001) coin a “hegemonic sports culture,” and thus represents an influential component of Australian culture. However, the postmodern discourse undermines the extent to which Australian identity is based on British heritage. Gelber (2010) purports that contemporary Australian society is far less influenced by British traditions as it was prior to WWII. The influence of immigration in Australia, and the global ascendency of Asia in recent years have led to a shift in national identity, which is reflected in sport. Edwards (2009) and McNeill (2008) provide evidence that traditional constructions of Australian sport minimise the cultural significance of indigenous athletes and customs in shaping national identity. Ultimately this paper argues that the role of sport in defining Australia’s identity is relative to the discourse employed in constructing it.

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