Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson says that colour plays an enormous part of the Olympics and not least the sports events themselves with flags and signs of all descriptions being waved about as the athletes and spectators alike got keenly involved.
Just look at the furore the Spanish Olympic Team's bright red and yellow uniforms have drawn – international interest and some Spanish red faces to match their colours. (www.smh.com.au )
Our own green and gold is a calling card for the Australian Olympic Team and just look at the press coverage of their outfits for the opening ceremony and athletic attire. It draws enormous press copy. Colours are important. Moreover, we just need to glance at the various football codes and the club colours.
Colour involves every area of our lives. The clothes we wear. The scenes we view. The word itself carries with it various images that reflects the beauty of all that is around us.
There are also what we might refer to as, 'Colours of Fortune', which are colours that reflect something precious to us or a sense of belonging. The colours of the Scottish Clans is an example. Jewellery is another example. A sport team's colours might be another that provides a sense of belonging. There is clearly a sense in which 'the colours' have played a role in our lives and this idea goes back to the ancients.
Colours and military history
'Showing the colours' is a term that is well recognised from military history associated with both land forces and naval engagements. In times when the ‘troops’ could not read, and in times before they could be contacted by radio or phone, coloured flags were an important way to show those of the same ‘troop’ or ‘team’ where they should be, and when.
It was also important in showing who was ‘friend’ and who was ‘enemy’, and for the landed gentry, whose ‘household’ people belonged to. These simple ‘colours’ later developed into flags, some with ‘coats of arms’ and other symbols.
Children and colour
Children are introduced to aligning themselves to 'the colours' through junior sports and their colourful uniforms. Mark Tronson said that his junior hockey club colours (Canberra Baptist Hockey Club) were a bright red and yellow. In the early 1970's working as a locomotive engineman at the Port Kembla Locomotive Depot, he recalls his years with the Port Kembla Baptist Church and served as a Sunday School teacher. In order to attract more boys to Sunday School, he established a Port Kembla Baptist Junior Hockey Club as was his experience as a boy at Canberra Baptist Church.
There were so many boys wanting to play hockey, that he had to hire a commercial bus every Saturday morning to transport them. One of his enginemen friends, a father of one of the lads rode 'shotgun' on the bus so as to ensure decorum. Obviously, he said, the same bright red and yellow of my Canberra Baptist Hockey Club boyhood years were chosen as the 'colours'.
As there were two teams in each age group one team was called the 'Red and Yellows', with red and yellow checkered shirts; and the other was the 'Red with Yellow Stripes', with a red shirt with a vertical yellow stripe on the left side. Those lads loved their colours, and more so, they took great pride in their teams. The parents loved it as their young boys were not divided into an A team or a B team, rather by 'colours',
Christians and colour
Christians too, Mark Tronson has noted, have placed an emphasis on colours, that for those within the sacramental wing of the church (Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican) there are different colours displayed for the various celebrations throughout the calendar year.
Non-Conformist Protestants (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Salvation Army, Uniting Church, Churches of Christ and numerous other denominations) have had a very different use for 'colours', their emphasis was on 'Preaching of Word'! Since the Reformation the terminology within this tradition has been that of hyperbole, that of placing ones 'colours' to the mast of Christ.
It has been a clarion call to stand tall with vigour and determination as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. This has been a spiritual battle cry for the hearts and minds in each generation and for Christian athletes.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html