You are painfully aware by now of the tedious “Find someone who loves you as much as this school of piranhas loves that hippopotamus carcass” meme that fills toilets across the nation with cellphones discarded by angry owners. Well, this is the thing they actually mean:
Lance “Buddy” Franklin has been playing Aussie rules football for 18 years, for Hawthorn and now with the gloriously named Sydney Swans (the swan, of course, being the most elegant nasty bastard in the animal kingdom), and Friday night by Australian reckoning, he lined up in the fourth quarter of Sydney’s victory over Geelong at the Sydney Cricket Ground for what would be his 1,000th career goal.
I think you can guess how it went, though this longer view might help.
Franklin is an indigenous Australian who has been open about his bouts with depression even in a life that has been joyous enough to make him one of the best Aussie rules players in history as well as the husband of Miss Universe Australia, which definitely beats how Purdue must still be feeling today. The only thing Franklin hasn’t done is win a Grand Final, though he must be honest enough to admit that being the object of interest in a 30,000-large mosh pit is probably just as cool.
Anyway, while you don’t have much context for Franklin’s feat unless you are steeped in footyphilia (and take your minds out of the gutters, you baboons; you know what we mean), you know that emptying a stadium like that doesn’t need much context. That can’t happen in American football because we are all afraid of each other, because players want fans to be kept at a safe distance (money for tickets and seats as far away from the action as possible), because security has a job to do and woe betide the unprotected skull of anyone who says different.
In Australia, though, the national motto is “Screw It.” In a nation that was particularly skittish about COVID, this was a super-spreader event that everyone seemed perfectly willing to ignore as fans were already skirting on the edges of the stadium in preparation for the running of the loons. There was the post-analysis fretting about the inadequate security that included fearful Geelong players and stunts like people setting out picnic blankets, running while selfieing and even dumping loved ones’ ashes, but it all fell under the header, “Well, of course you’re right, but still …” If you’re running for something, it matters to you, and if you’re running in the same direction as 40,000 other people so that you can be trapped in a crowd, it matters like anti-venom.
Put another way, while Draymond Green may skip work to watch LeBron James become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, he’s not doing this. This is reserved for a nation that still uses nicknames like “Buddy,” and team nicknames like Swans. This is aesthetically pleasing, even if it doesn’t contain a single mask. Hey, even the most strident advocates for safety have cracks in our resolve, and ain’t nobody doing that for Kyrie Irving.