I must preface this REACTION by saying I don’t hate sport. I have been known to attend sporting events and enjoy them, even to play the odd friendly game of soccer or basketball when my ankles agree. As I write this I’m watching the Tigers valiantly fall to the Swans. I have nothing against sport.
In a recent publication intended for Melbourne’s public transport commuters I found an article titled Watch the footy, you’ll live longer.
Describing the results of a study on young men between 16 and 25 who played football, the conclusions were “Sport provides a way for men and boys to connect with each other, to form broad social networks and build a sense of belonging,” along with “The footy game provides the opportunity to hang out with friends.”
The final message of article and study was “having two or three good mates could extend your life by five to seven years. Doing things with good friends...is good for your physical health and longevity."
These results aren’t stunning in their revelation. To my understanding it has long been accepted that emotional stability and well-being can be linked to physical health and longevity.
I wonder what the results would indicate were the study conducted on young men between 16 and 25 who participated in the activities of a community theatre group.
My strongest relationships, both personally and professionally, have been formed through my life in art. From community theatre groups to my training, and the professional opportunities that have arisen beyond, I have a strong network of friends that brings me joy daily.
It is a common lament among my community that if only the Australian general public showed as much respect and admiration for our creative industries as our sport, we would all have many more opportunities for work and exposure.
A friend who recently visited New York reported that in that great theatre Mecca a young artist can find financial support from any number of wealthy philanthropists who are passionate about supporting the arts. The wistful remark that followed was “in Australia, the wealthy are only passionate about supporting football”.
An article in today’s Herald Sun concerning patrons being affected by scenes of violence, gore and animal cruelty in new Australian film Snowtown drew some comments that were beyond belief – look particularly for ben scott at 8:12AM 12/06/2011 and Tim7 at 11:02AM 12/06/2011 for examples that horrify me as a lover of our screen culture.
The much decried Tall Poppy Syndrome seems particularly prevalent when discussing our more esoteric artistic or intellectual achievements, especially when compared to the celebration our sporting stars receive in the media daily.* It’s still a point of discontent for me that every nightly news broadcast has a dedicated sports section and rarely a mention of the arts.
It is this same disregard for our arts potential on a national scale that creates a mindset in young actors of the apparent necessity to make it big in Hollywood before you can find any opportunities at home.
The ongoing uncertainty and fragility of our arts industry, particularly our screen sector, cannot withstand this exodus of talent and potential because our wider national culture refuses to support and nurture the next generation of creative genius.
We have to encourage our young artists to form broad social networks and build a sense of belonging, to connect with each other, to extend our artistic life by five to seven to twenty to one hundred years.
If we can do it, I guarantee it will be good for our physical health and longevity.
*This is something that preoccupies my thought that I intend to write on further at a future date – particularly the creation of demand/supply in our media for sensationalism and scandal.
**This is a REACTION to the article Watch the footy, you’ll live longer by Michelle Ainsworth
**Published in MX, Friday June 11 2011, page 4.