Another weekend of football grand finals has passed us by, and there’s almost certainly friends, spouses, partners and co-workers offering up the opinion, “it’s just a game.”
On the surface they’re right: it’s just a bunch of fully-grown men kicking a ball around.
But scratch that surface and you’ll see they’re games that build a community of people.
The weekend was host to two of the country’s biggest sporting occasions – Saturday’s AFL decider between Richmond Tigers and Adelaide Crows, and Sunday’s NRL grand final between Melbourne Storm and North Queensland Cowboys.
Each of these sporting codes brought together armies of people who have bled, sweated and cried for their teams.
Richmond was the ultimate fairy tale, securing their first premiership in more than 35 years. People wearing the black and yellow lined the streets and partied well until the next morning to celebrate.
For most of the fans, it was a culmination of three decades of patience and hope, and more than than simply bragging rights. It was the ultimate pay-off for years of attending games in the cold and rain and wearing those colours proudly.
At its core, football is about loyalty: You choose a team and no matter how many times the line-up changes you more than likely stick with that team until the mostly-bitter-but-sometimes-joyous end.
Or you’re just in it for the drinks and the finals are a decent enough excuse to get a group of mates together.
Regardless, in lots of workplaces and living rooms the games become a talking point that can bridge barriers between age, race, wealth and nationality.
It’s not just a phenomenon on a national scale, either. You can see this dedication and support in local codes too.
Whether you regularly read the sports pages, even avid newshounds were turning to the back of the paper or to the website for updates on the outcomes of Group 10 rugby league or Blowes Clothing Cup rugby union games this past season.
Because whether we have a passing curiosity or are invested enough to paint our garage door, we just have to know how it ends.
And because footy gets in the blood.
Congratulations to all teams who played in football grand finals this year. Enjoy the off-season.