Eurovision, the only game worth watching this weekend
At about 8pm each Sunday night, having digested my fill of weekend sport, I sit down and pen a Monday sports column for The Punch.
This weekend was different. This weekend I was on the NSW south coast with the wife and kids and another family. We were much too busy playing beach cricket and spotting bandicoots to catch any TV sport. We did, however, watch an exciting TV contest which had hype, tight scores and girls in even tighter dresses. There were even commentators.
Eurovision was great fun for the whole family, and if the Twitter trends were any guide, Australia watched in huge numbers. Partly we tuned in to laugh at the once great continent of Europe, whose musicians are tragically stuck in a 1980s time warp of synth pop and big hair. Seriously, when you see these guys lagging years behind in culture, it’s no wonder they can’t get their finances together.
What about that Dutch entry? A chick in North American Indian head dress with a country band backing her. Must’ve been a decent old batch of hash come through the Dutch Ports when they dreamed that one up.
Hey, and how ‘bout the act from Georgia, starring the Georgian Billy Idol in the Caucasus Horror Picture Show.
And then there were the Russians, those six wizened babushkas in traditional folk gear. Halfway through their act, they baked a tray of what looked like piroshkies (traditional Russian meat pies). Word is, they only entered Eurovision to raise money for a church. Hopefully they auctioned off the piroshkies afterwards, because who’s going to buy the single?
But for all the Euromocking and poking fun at the host city of Baku, Azerbaijan (which came last in the bidding for the 2016 Olympics), Eurovision made for a great all-in family TV event. The experience of being gathered round the telly, hurling banter and insults at the small screen, mirrored exactly the way men watch sport together. And it was great fun.
I never watch sport with my wife. She hates TV sport, and hates it even more when I “ruin” a BBQ or other social event by switching on the telly to catch a few minutes of the big game.
What she doesn’t realise is that when men watch sport on telly, we commune. As we trade banter and statistics and engage in gratuitous one-upmanship, we actually draw closer, and share something much more meaningful than we’d do if we were stuck making polite conversation. For men, televised sport doesn’t kill a social event. It brings it to life.
Like I say, though, my wife has never been particularly receptive to this argument.
So anyway, there we were down the coast on Friday and Saturday night, with a pile of board games beckoning. I hate board games. Monopoly brings out the capitalist pig in everyone and the Scrabble set is always missing the J, the Z and one of the s’s.
And then Eurovision came on and saved everything. All eight of us, men and women, boys and girls, delighted in the sheer gaudy glory of Serbian entrant Zeljko Joksimovic trying to sell us a priceless, hand-woven Balkan rug.
Long story short, watching Eurovision was about as close as I have come with my wife to the experience of watching sport with other men. And you know what? I’d wager there are numerous Australian households who experienced the same thing, and who share similar experiences with home grown shows like The Voice and Australia’s Got (Not Very Much) Talent.
For the record, some Swedish woman dressed as a dementor from Harry Potter won Eurovision 2012.
Ah, but we’re always told in sport that what counts is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. By that measure, Europe had an absolute shocker. But on our little couch in Currarong, NSW, and on couches all over Australia, it’s safe to say us amateur critics all played an absolute blinder.
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