Somehow, from the word ‘versus’, Mr Justice has created his own verb which is “to verse” someone or something. For example, the Autobots versed the Deceptacons on the planet Cybertron – or The Pixie versed T. McGee over the last remaining cupcake. You know it makes sense. And I kind of like it because it suggests a great big sing-a-long where each side takes turns serenading each other, or at the very least reciting long tracts of poetry.
And so I almost understood what Mr Justice meant when he solemnly informed me that The Cats were going to verse Geelong next weekend. Of course, any AFL fan worth their salt would know The Cats and Geelong are one and the same team. And – while they were showcasing their knowledge of the Great Game – that same AFL fan might have also spared me much confusion by explaining why Gary Ablett is not only *still* playing for Geelong but looks younger than the last time I paid attention circa 1996. (The answer, apparently, is that the current Gary Ablett is in fact Gary Ablett Junior. But someone somewhere chose to drop the “Jr” just to keep people like me in the dark).
In any case, Mr Justice didn’t need the salted AFL fan to point out his faux pas, because he immediately corrected himself, and, with a small laugh, pointed out to me that if The Cats did actually verse Geelong, neither side could win and they would, in fact, be kicking the ball to themselves. I like this kid’s way of thinking.
Since Mr Justice is the only member of the household who has any knowledge of the Great Game, I asked him to explain it to me. He thought carefully for a moment and then declared “AFL is like Aussie Rules, except it has badges and colours.”
I suggested that that they might actually be the same thing.
“They *are* the same thing,” he replied. “Except that AFL has badges and colours”.
Perhaps he is making the distinction between the game itself and the over-commercialised and over-hyped competition that seems to occupy our televisions for a good chunk of the year? But then again perhaps he is just as confused as the rest of the household and is just putting on a brave face.
Of course the bigger picture here is that we live in a country that seems to define itself by its sporting successes and I, personally, couldn’t give a flying proverbial about sport. Sure, I enjoy a cooling glass of Pimms during Wimbeldon, a champagne (or four) on Melbourne Cup day, maybe an ice cold beer at the cricket… erm, is a theme emerging here? But, as un-Australian as it may seem, I just don’t care about the sport itself. Perhaps it is because I chose to pursue a Life of the Mind. Or maybe it’s just because I was totally un-co as a child.
In any case, is it fair that my – and indeed my husband’s – indifference to sport should put our children at a social disadvantage? My husband recently watched – with barely-disguised horror – as Mr Justice tried to kick a footy in front of his peers. The next day he went straight out and bought an oval-shaped ball and – no doubt after googling instructions – he promptly gave Mr Justice a lesson or two on how to properly kick and pass it.
But Mr Justice is a smart boy and he can look after himself. He took matters into his own hands by bestowing his previously teamless dad an Official AFL Team for Father’s Day. He did this by spending two bucks on a Demons mug’n’socks combo from the school’s Father’s Day Stall. Of course, neither my husband or I knew who the Demons were so Mr Justice cheerfully went off and did some research. He came back to inform us that they were right at the very bottom of the AFL ladder with only 12 points (in stark comparison to the leaders’ 84 points). Which goes some way in explaining why they were off-loading merchandise at a primary school stall.
“Twelve points!” enthused Mr Justice in that tone of voice that echoed my own effusive praise when given a birthday present made entirely of empty toilet rolls and patty pans. “Your team’s trying really hard, Daddy!”.
Go, you good thing, go!