The politics of V.F.L. football
Wickham, G. (1985) The politics of V.F.L. football. Local Consumption Occasional Paper, 3 .
It is not uncommon to hear football being denigrated as a pastime which distracts people from "real" political concerns, "real struggles". And nor is it uncommon to hear the politics of football discussed as a crude class politics; that is, for example, to hear that Carlton and Melbourne are "ruling class" clubs or that Collingwood. Fitzroy and Footscray are the only "true working class" clubs left. Neither of these formulations is of any worth for a serious political analysis of V.F.L. football, as neither of them allows a space for a politics of football as a site in itself. How then should such a politics be constructed? In this paper I want to attempt to answer this question through an examination of the way in which the polities of football is constructed in two recent books concerned with analysing football - Leonie Sandercock and Ian Turner's Up Where, Cazaly? and Bob Stewart's The Australian Football Business. Sadly, these two books are the only two books available which present a serious analysis of V.F.L. football (although there are several articles which present such an analysis) and both are to be highly praised for doing so. However, my concern here is not with the process of reviewing, with condemning or condoning these two books; my concern is with a reading of them to determine what space they allow for a politics of football as a site in itself. I think we can divide both books' treatment of this question into two basic categories: one, where a space is provided for a politics of football which does treat it as a site in itself; and two, where a space is provided for a politics of football only in terms of some essence which exists external to the site of football and determines this site or some aspect of it. As well, in the case of Stewart's book there is a third category - where the analysis does treat football as a site in; itself but in doing so promotes a position on certain issues which I feel should be challenged.
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