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Sport, Triumph Displays and Masculinity

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SKU: 03027-M116

When the Australian cricket team defeated England in the 1997 test series, spin bowler Shane Warne showed his pleasure at Australia's success by standing on the balcony at Lord's Cricket Ground, waving a stump above his head and waggling his hips at the crowd in a mock hula dance (Figure 1). However, in the face of this provocative display it was not the British but the Australian press which took offence and printed a critical article under the heading 'Conduct Unbecoming'. (The Australian, 15 August 1997:12) What might have otherwise been perceived as an extraverted, high-spirited but nevertheless good-natured expression of Aussie 'larrikanism' in the best traditions of irreverance and non-conformity which that concept implies, was instead interpreted as a bragging, arrogant display. Warne was labelled 'uncouth', 'boorish' and a 'gloating victor'. While there was some sympathy for him, there was also the suggestion that an unspoken standard or rule had been breached. Notwithstanding that similar symbolic displays take place in most other sports, many of which have become well established rituals, in Warne's case his celebratory behaviour appeared to be outside the bounds of the usual or expected norms. Whatever the explanation for the reaction of the press, Warne's behaviour raises some interesting questions about the significance of sporting victory displays in general, and their meaning within the domain of particular sports. Since expressions of victory are now a commonplace in most male sport, questions arise concerning how they relate to wider definitions of masculinity and the degree to which they are predominantly a male phenomenon. Correspondingly the greater exposure of sport on television and the increased professionalisation which has accompanied this, have made the overt expression of feelings associated with winning more prevalent and certainly more public.

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