‘Sport and the Australian War Effort during the First World War: Concord and Conflict’ (PhD in History, 2018).
With concerns surrounding national security emerging from 1900 onward ideas surrounding the playing of sport as a preparation for warfare became common. The outbreak of war in 1914 oversaw the variable explosion of this connection between playing and battlefields. Through propaganda, recruitment, fund-raising, sporting competitions, education and gender relations, patriots sought to hone sports influence in order to aid in the defence of Empire. Yet sport possessed the ability to divide with as great a strength as it did to unite, becoming embroiled in the social turmoil that engulfed the nation after 1915. Bitter public debates surrounding the appropriateness of games, violent altercations at fixtures and the eventual government intervention against sport in 1917 speak to this conflict. When viewing these parallel developments, we can decipher that sport had an altogether paradoxical and complicated relationship with Australia’s war. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to remind audiences that, in spite of what several contemporary government and sporting codes tell us, the celebrated place of sport in our memory of the war is one to be questioned.
Supervisors: Professor Joy Damousi and Professor Sean Scalmer