27 August 2023

Probing the polls: marauding magpies and Matildas elevating women's sport

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Matildas football players celebrating

The Matildas celebrate after winning against France in the quarter-final of the 2023 World Cup following a long penalty shootout. Photo: CommBank Matildas Facebook.

Spring is on its way and with it, the classic Canberra conundrum: how do you avoid swooping magpies?

As unearthly apparitions in zip-tied helmets ride our streets, hoping to get to work without being dive-bombed, we wondered if there was another way to get through spring.

It turns out that swooping isn’t a problem for at least half our readers, some of whom are such close friends with the local birds that they may even claim to be in cahoots.

Earthdog wrote: “I feed my local magpie squadron much to the disdain of my wife. Have even helped a single mum magpie raise her lone fluffy chick until flight time. Go forth my black and white minions and claim your space. I invite them to swoop by showing cut-outs of our Local Council members. Come to think of it, the cut-outs might do a better job than our ‘elected’ officials.”

Haylz Sibz agreed, writing, “If you talk to them by taking a little time out of your day and pay them the attention they deserve, you’ll soon see that they’ll get to know you on a more personal level, leaving you alone to go about your day.

“So, with a little patience, a tiny bit of persistence and a lot of dedication from humankind, you’ll find that you WILL NOT BE SWOOPED BY THE MAGPIE!”

READ ALSO Magpies are evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards. Fact check: true

Our question was: Have you been swooped by a magpie? A total of 863 readers responded and were fairly evenly divided on the question.

Your choices to vote were: Yes, damn the vicious bastards. This received 44 per cent of the total, or 383 votes. Alternatively, you could vote No, I live in peace with our feathered friends. This response had the slight edge with 56 per cent of the total or 480 votes.

This week, our question is all about Matildas mania. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone as the Matildas progressed agonisingly close to a World Cup final before losing the consolation final against Sweden to finish fourth.

While the pundits will argue over the details, there’s no doubt the country has been galvanised by a wave of support rarely seen since we won the America’s Cup and a nation that had never done more than watch the Sydney to Hobart start from their Boxing Day sofas suddenly became experts on international yacht racing.

READ ALSO What will be the legacy of the Matildas’ success for women’s sport in Canberra?

The nail-biting quarter-final against France was the top-rated television program in Australia for 2023 with an estimated 70 per cent of Australian televisions turned to the game – providing, incidentally, a bonanza for advertisers who were wise enough to back the campaign rather than listening to the traditional whingeing about women’s sport.

They’re not the first by any means: women’s football in other codes has steadily gained, and this week, the Albanese government announced a $200 million funding package for women’s sport, flagging moves to also make more major events available on free-to-air television.

So how far does this go? Can we finally put to bed the notion that sport played by women is a lesser substitute for sport played by men? Or is the effect temporary?

Our question this week is:

Has the Matildas' success finally put women's sport on the map?

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The World Cup was a once off. You still have to fill stadiums to get the money comparable to male players

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