Saturday, September 01, 2007

That ole identity thing

Sometimes this stuff can be slippery right? There I am just browsing the newspapers online and this article unexpectedly gave me a jolt - a part of me actually cares whether or not the All Blacks win the world cup rugby in France. This is less about rugby of course and more about the whole concept of where I feel home is. Looks like I'm split.

I can imagine barracking for the ABs, going nuts as they scrap near the tryline in the last five minutes of a final where they need a converted try to take the prize - they would deserve it; they play great rugby, still, even though we know they can be beaten like everyone else. There is still something special about the team and what it represents. That's not to say that Kiwis are enamoured with their number 1 national icon in the way they once were. Living the rugby of the 50s, 60s and 70s as it happened, fully aware of the aura and mystique the teams embodied in the amateur era, and watching the pros grind out results and star performances for 6 figure compensation are night and day in many ways. In an country once a byword for egalitarianism the concept has been hollowed out and replaced by deunionised free markets. Commercialism may attempt to conflate pride, passion and raw determination with digital broadcast revenues but it always rings hollow - perhaps particularly so when commentators like Murray Mexted get in on the act. We are left then with mere remnants of emotional ties to things like sports teams in such cultural environments. These attachments run deep though and if push comes to shove, and I can find a TV to watch, I will lap up the coming matches.

The tricky bit comes though if England manage an (unlikely) face off with the ABs. I still enjoy the novelty of glimpsing my two passports when I reach into the money belt securely stashed at home here but think little about what they represent, as emblems of belonging, tribal affiliation, right of entry and sanctuary, who I am. A NZ friend of mine recently joked that just because I hold a NZ passport doesn't mean I'm a kiwi - but of course it does. So who would I cheer for in a crunch match? It's finely balanced and I qualify my answer by saying that it pertains solely to the narrow context of international rugby; whoever plays the best rugby. Of course this is likely to be the ABs. Doesn't mean to say I'm about to throw away that slightly ragged, scuffed and well travelled maroon book.

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