Big things

I understand the appeal of small things. Some people like them better, and I think I get that. Some people relate to things more when they are closer, more attainable, more comprehensible. The feeling of being able to fully understand the way a particular universe operates is a powerful thing. But I don't dream about things like that. They don't fire me up like the big things do. I'm talking about scenarios where, at any one time, the lives and feelings of millions of people could be affected by one tiny mistake. I'm drawn to things that are epic, things that have wide reaching consequences.

Barack Obama was recently re-elected as the President of the United States for a second term. It was a great achievement. It was a particularly dramatic day for me because I had been following along with the build up to the election for months. I'm a politics junkie, and for people like me there's really no bigger event that the US Presidential election. The drama is simply unparallelled. To start with, it's a competition for the most powerful position in what remains the biggest economic, cultural and military power in the world. The victor undoubtedly has the power to influence and shape the United States and by extension the world for four years. The scrutiny and pressure on the candidates and their teams is extraordinary. Every single detail - every word, every press release, every campaign commercial - is analysed, reanalysed and overanalysed. Whether you view the process or the outcomes with optimism or contempt, there can be no doubt that it is absorbing, fascinating and intimidating in it's scope. It is political campaigning writ large, unquestionably the biggest stage of its kind.

When it comes to sports, I have a wide range of interests. I am interested in team and individual sports and both local and global codes. There are big stages in every sport. The AFL grand final has limited global appeal but has a significant cultural impact in the lives of the AFL-oriented parts of Australia. To me though, the biggest stage in world sport is the UEFA Champions League. The World Cup has undoubted global appeal and attracts the attention of an extraordinary proportion of the world's population, but the falling standard of international football in comparison to the elite club competitions has meant that the highest quality, most dramatic and most influential football is played at Europe's top table. In the knockout stages, clubs with magnificent histories, massive fanbases, and extraordinary players square off in some of the greatest cities in the world and the greatest stadiums ever built. With half the competition played in a knockout format, fractions of a second separate events that can fundamentally alter outcomes, often in ways which can stun fans, players and coaches alike. The greatest players in the world, who seem to dominate domestic stages each and every weekend, often come apart under the spotlight of a European semi-final. A dramatic tactical change can resonate across the football world for decades. The amount of money spent by teams chasing this trophy is extraordinary, but even hundreds of millions of euros cannot guarantee glory. At it's best it is an extraordinary competition.

When it comes to television, the United States is the make or break market. New shows must establish a desirable audience relatively quickly or else face cancellation. Numbers are broken down, counted and sorted into demographics. How many people are watching live? Watching on DVR? How are these ratings measured? When I hear and see people talking about Australian ratings figures, I am genuinely interested to find out how certain shows are going, but I'm not drawn to them like I am with the US figures. For those of us who live outside the US, the fate of our favourite performers and characters are largely out of our own hands. For better or worse, the biggest stage in the television industry, an industry which I find extremely engaging, is the United States.

This could all be seen as some sort of cultural cringe, but I don't think it is. Australia can and has produced geniunely world-class creative, sporting and scientific talent and these people, whether they are based here or overseas, have gone on to do brilliant things. But the fact is that for things to be globally influential, they need to affect the lives of millions, hundreds of millions, perhaps even a billion people. I crave the sort of drama and high-stakes brinksmanship that these things offer. It's not a slight on any person or place, it's just that my personal preference is for the big things, and it most cases, they are happening elsewhere.