Viewport width =
August 10, 2009 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

BA (Footy): How university is exactly like footy

It may come as a surprise, but university life bears a striking resemblance to the game of footy. As the great wash of bodies swathe and jostle through the rucks and mauls of Kirk and Murphy, one is overcome with a wave of footy-related imagery, so strong and succinct. You could be excused for thinking you were crouched cold on the tips of Westpac Stadium for all the footy enveloping your tertiary education journey.

For whatever reason, academics and intellectuals alike have ignored the wealth of evidence linking tertiary education and footy. A cursory examination through Victoria University’s dense history suggests that while other universities were considering their place in the world, lamenting the scene and searching for the new and the excitable, Vic’s staff were considering footy, lamenting the lack of footy and searching for new and exciting venues in which to play footy. The definitive history of Vic’s students’ association—
A Radical History—devotes no fewer than five chapters to the utilisation of footy as a tool for student congeniality and political reconciliation. This isn’t folly; this is fact.

You, reader, are following in the sprig marks of a long and storied tradition that is anything but a game of two halves. If anything, it’s a game of six points.

University Admission = Possessing the Skills Needed for Footy

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, New Zealand continues to insist it has a steady, if not unspectacular, secondary school system. NCEA may provide credit where credit is or is not due, but for reasons beyond the comprehension of many, it still—SOMEHOW—readies young minds for the rigours of tertiary study.

In this sense, university admission is tantamount to having the skills needed for footy. Footy teams are fastidiously picky about who they let in among their ranks. Many players find themselves spending game after game riding the pine, unable to break into top-level footy because they lack the je ne sais quoi for top-level footy. Academia is equally fussy, admitting only the most able of minds into tertiary education straight out of high school, and leaving the awful to sit on the bench at polytech learning woodwork and home economics.

Of course, you could argue that once a player hits 20, he or she is granted free reign to swan into any 100-level class they so choose—but let’s not lose sight; it’s tantamount to letting the fat 15-year-old play Under 12 footy after he’s held back in Year 8 for the third time.

Choosing a Degree = Choosing What Kind of Footy You Wanna Footy

In a perfect world, there would be one autonomous kind of footy: footy. Everyone would know footy, where to find it, where to breathe it in, where to imbue it, where to become it. Unfortunately, until the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we inhabit an imperfect world where there are several kinds of footy vying to be called footy. Football, Australian rules football, rugby union, and rugby league have all clenched their fists, and with hand on heart, have declared that they are the one true footy.

Tertiary education is no different. The pursuit of intellectual inquiry dips and dives in between a variety of different fields and spaces. Academics may agree prima facie that the right of the free thinker to question and challenge the world around him or her is inalienable, but the truth really lies just below the surface. Academics sincerely believe the subject they have devoted their entire lives to is the single most important field of study ever conceived by man. A Bachelor of Arts spits babble at a Bachelor of Law, who flicks pointed words at a Bachelor of Commerce, which buys and sells a Bachelor of Architecture, and so on and so on.

When you’ve proven yourself skilled in the realms of footy, now you must choose what area of footy to apply your footy in. Tertiary education knows this as “choosing your degree”, but the parlance of our times knows it simply as “What footy to footy”. Whether it is football, rugby or league, choosing what code you play is vitally important.
Of course, there are some footy players who are so good at footy, they can footy whatever kind of footy they want. Some may become sick of one brand of footy and opt for another kind of footy, sometimes successfully, other times not so much. It is a change advised in only the most extreme of circumstances. Footy is, after all, a journey, not a choice.

Choosing a Major = Choosing What Position in Which to Play Footy

A footy position is like a shoe from Shoe Clinic: you won’t pick it; it will pick you.

Footy teams are tailored so that every size, shape and disposition is catered for. Short people, so discriminated against by every single artifice known to man, find solace in filling the position of halfback; the quick ‘uns (or those born in Fiji) turn tricks on the wing; the tall ones are locks; the stocky ones flank the flank; the alpha males wear 10, and the lunch boxes fill out the front row. Every piece falls into place nicely. I challenge footy’s critics to look upon this model of harmony and tell me world peace is a dreamer’s dream.

In the same vein as your footy spot, your major chooses you. Standards and practices may force you to physically pick a major, but the influences that define and shape your choice come from somewhere far beyond. The major itself draws you in; you feel compelled beyond all reproach to study Philosophy or Biomedical Science. You found yourself tootling on a clarinet as a plucky 9-year-old before you chose Performance Music; you read before donning your English Lit cap; you lost the will to live long before taking accounting—you were chosen. The major chose you. Like the boring kid playing fullback, your major—your position—was meant to be. Footy is nothing if not destiny.

Going to Lectures = Training for Footy

Practice makes perfect, and practice makes footy. All top footy stars need time to hone their skills and learn new methods of producing top-class, mistake-free footy. It’s an indelible fact of modern and prehistoric footy that one needs to master the craft of footy before being asked to perform footy in a pressure situation, like a game of footy.

It’s also understood that footy training is a complete and utter chore: surly coaches standing around lecturing about the mechanics of footy to an audience who want nothing more than to play some footy in the footy. The lines of parallel between this and tertiary education couldn’t be more pronounced. Lecturers are like coaches; every lecture is a training session. Like a training session, you feel a profound sense of tiredness and/or boredom, but you persevere with its rigid structures because you want nothing else but to graduate, or in Footyspeak, to win.

Tutorials would be comparable to private gym sessions, but you don’t have those anymore, so why bother mentioning them? Who needs the gym to play top-level footy?

Essays, Tests, and Labs = Playing Footy

This is it. This what those hours of backbreaking, mind-aching toil is for. This is the perfect symbiosis of player and game, of material and student. This is where pressure mounts to insurmountable odds, where conditions deteriorate worse than Athletic Park 1996, and where nothing short of perfection is required.

Essays, Tests and Labs are designed purely with performance in mind. The hours you spend absorbing information start to bear fruit, or they wither in the wind and crumble in your hand. It’s game day, son, and if you haven’t learned a thing or two from the geezer with the whistle, then may god have mercy on your scoreboard.

Essays are arguably the best example of the footy–uni parallel. Every essay begins with a kick-off: the introduction. It moves swiftly kicks for territory, establishing the grounds by which the game of footy will be played and where the scope of academic inquiry will be. It jostles for possession, scoring points (and marks) whenever and wherever. Unfortunately, it will also include mistakes, which one will be penalised for with the loss of three points or one for failing to reference something correctly. 80 minutes/5000 words later, you have constructed a conclusion that will sum up the previous minutes and words, and all that’s left is for the critics to draw their conclusions, usually with the aid of something red and inky.

Should one bring out his ‘A’ game, as it were, the match is a success and will don the annals of history as a classic performance. If the game sucks itself into ‘C’ territory, then it is passable, but requires a greater effort at training. If ‘D’ is your ‘D’esign, then you’ve disgraced yourself, you’ve disgraced your team, and above all else, you’ve disgraced footy. One should never be satisfied with their ‘D’ game, except if you’re the Warriors, and that’s the only game you have.

Exams = Post Season Footy

The regular season, decorated with essays and lectures, is divine enough. But for the elite, there is one last step on the ladder to footy success: the post-footy season. It is in this pressure cooker environment where one’s footy ability is truly called upon. Failure brings about an undignified exit from the footy season; success can herald promotion to a new level of footy, or a footy trophy disguised as a footy degree. Either way, it is the ultimate in footy, and nothing short of footy is acceptable in footy.

So remember, when footying the footy, it’s always important to keep footy above all footy, for when your footy days are long behind you, you will always have footy.

The end… but not for footy.


About the Author ()

Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (12)

Trackback URL / Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dad says:

    Yeah nah fuckin good wun mate. You’re a legde, mozza

  2. Irvine Welsh says:

    Aye ya wee cunt, if ah hudnae spilt mah fookin lager n curry on the fookr ah wudae huda gazz at the wee yon, nae worries but likesay. FOOKIN FITBA !!!

  3. Fuckin' Chopper Reid mate says:

    Yeh g’day, it’s fuckin’ Chopper ‘ere, ow the fuck ar ya New Zillind orright mate? Oi, ya fuckin’ phone’s ringin

  4. Jezza says:

    Game of two halves. Footy was the winner on the day.

  5. Ruck me it's Chopper Reid again mate says:

    Yeh fuckin’ oath jezz, ya good bastard

  6. the footy show says:

    now look here i was using this computer looking for something about footy to read while i waited for more footy on the tele and dream of footy every night. then i realized that footy is all around us, truly. it’s like me wife she yells “whats the score” and i yell “you know bloody well women can’t watch footy now refill my footy mug with frosty beer” (my footy mug is actually just the handle from a tea cup super glued to a footy with a hole cut from the top) i mean what is wrong with these footywomen there is no such thing only footymen cause footy is for men and footy is the best and thats why i like it


  7. Foot. E says:

    Yeh mate can’t believe you CUT OPEN a real, live, living, breathing, footy ball… then again, spose it’s OK if it’s to put beer in it. Strewth I better go, the footy’s on in two days I better get my footy up n my name’s goff n I’m off

  8. Michael the Courier Delivery Person says:

    I found this article to be a grand mis-representation of all things football related. I am disgusted and ashamed to have read it and consider my life poorer for the exp–

    OH HO ONYA ARSE, SALIENT! Ha ha! Almost had ya buggered seven ways from fuggin sundown, didn’t I? Piss me daks, this is the fuggin business. Footy’s been a major part of me life since I picked up my first footy and footied the footy in a game a footy.

    Question is though, fellas, the question is: will I ever see the biff again? Better fuggin hope so! Ha ha!


    – Mike the Courier

  9. the footy show says:

    i didn’t actually cut open the footy unfortunately one day me and the other footymen were kicking the footy talking about footy when a rabid samoan came out of nowhere and tried to eat the footy. we said “that’s not food that’s a footy” but he already ripped a hole in it and scurried away. saw the bloke later that night wearing a tuxedo with a top hat and he thanked me and told me how he had to eat part of the footy because apparently they cure rabies. i just told him hey mate, just get me another fucking footy and come play footy tomorrow with us the footy crew because we love footy the most footy is the greatest

    you might know him as matt utai

    true footy story, footymen

  10. Celine Dion says:

    …And I know that… my footy… will go on… and… on…

  11. smackdown says:


  12. Jemima says:

    Hey smackdown. wanna make out?

Recent posts

  1. VUW Halls Hiking Fees By 50–80% Next Year
  2. The Stats on Gender Disparities at VUW
  3. Issue 25 – Legacy
  4. Canta Wins Bid for Editorial Independence
  5. RA Speaks Out About Victoria University Hall Death
  6. VUW Hall Death: What We Know So Far
  8. New Normal
  9. Come In, The Door’s Open.
  10. Love in the Time of Face Tattoos

Editor's Pick

Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required