Public emotions and their personal consequences

the nationalizing affects of the Australian Football League since 1990

Leigh Boucher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the historical and emotional consequences of the Victorian Football League's decision to go national. Many saw the emergence of the Australian Football League (AFL) as a threat to the authentic attachments of supporters. As many localized social practices were rationalized, however, engagement with the League increased across Australia. This article suggests that this success can be explained, in part, by the ways in which public representations of the AFL provided new points of identification for supporters. Drawing on recent work by critical theorists of emotion, I suggest that the already passionate culture of Australian rules supporting has been reworked by the animation of nationalistic attachments and the increasingly intimate representation of players in Australian public life. Ironically, though, these new modes of representation have opened the AFL out to heated debates about the emotions of the players themselves. The contested emergence of the crying AFL player in Australian public life since 2000 is both a product of these shifts and an example of the unruliness of identification and idealization. Attachments to players in the language of national identity, I suggest, are psychically volatile because they are connected to how supporters understand their own identities, lives, and losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1546-1566
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2015

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