"The virtue of all-in wrestling", according to the French writer Roland Barthes, "is that it is the spectacle of excess". Likewise, according to the Italian writer Umberto Eco, all sports activity "is dominated by the idea of waste". If Barthes and Eco are right, it must surely be true that Rugby League is the quintessential "spectacle of excess". Australian Rules is clearly a species of gymnastics, with all the aesthetic rules this implies. Rugby League, on the other hand, has exorbitant exertion without any discernible aesthetic whatsoever: it is spectacle without the trappings of art.
Recommended CitationBurchell, David, Rugby League, Australian Left Review, 1(100), 1987, 42-43.