I have been listening to and observing some pretty dramatic reactions to the results of the last 7 defeats for Team New Zealand over the last few weeks. At work, on the busses, in lines waiting to be served and on the walks with my dog; the scenarios have been quite amazing. I remember the events around NZ’s winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011 but this year, with the America’s Cup, something deep within the New Zealand psyche has emerged. I suspect it has always been there, but the last month has brought this collective underlying feeling very much to the fore.
Before I label New Zealanders as a nation of drama queens or something more serious, I need to point out that similar emotions are evoked amongst the citizens of much larger nations when the Football World Cup is up for grabs. For example, we have not seen the riots when any of our national teams lose, or the murders of those blamed for failures. In many ways one could almost say that our reaction to the crazy ups and downs of the San Francisco regatta are those of a ‘small nation,’ where events prominent in the news channels, newspapers and all forms of social media, take over, to the extent that ‘everybody is talking’ and one would be hard pressed to find people who knew nothing of the stimulus behind the mass enthusiasm.
Of course now that things have gone a bit belly-up, we can expect to see a sense of denial settling in as people claim that they were ‘never interested’ and ‘that it is all a rich man’s sport; a little too much like a disciple denying knowledge or links to Jesus at a particularly difficult time.
Like all ‘events’ in the life of a nation, things do settle down after the inevitability of a loss or victory become less of a focus. People in New Zealand have already begun that process by which they make sense of the San Francisco regatta. Once the dust settles, New Zealanders will do what the rest of the world does; they will get on with the everyday task of making a living, loving their friends, family and waiting for the next ‘big event;’ the one that will once again capture our sense of being a New Zealander. Just let’s hurry that process!