Sport’s sil­ver lin­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - Affleck - Townsville Bul­letin Satur­day, March 5, 2011

MAYBE it was co­in­ci­dence. Maybe it was meant to be.

Some­how amid the dis­gust – on my part – over the on­go­ing Days Of Our Lives rub­bish in­volv­ing highly paid pro­fes­sional foot­ballers and man­agers, my on­line search en­gine stum­bled across an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle on spin.

Y o u d o n ’ t h a v e t o b e Ein­stein to work out that in such a con­text, ‘ spin’ refers to the way cir­cum­stances and events are slanted by smooth young pro­fes­sion­als in suits to con­vince us that so-and-so isn’t re­ally a bad bloke, or that gov­ern­ments have their hands in our pock­ets for the most wor­thy of rea­sons.

In his ar­ti­cle writ­ten over 12 months ago, Syd­ney journo David Pen­berthy com­pared the re­fresh­ing and can­did ex­cite­ment of Queens­land hur­dler Sally Pearce ( nee McLel­lan) af­ter she placed sec­ond in her 100m event at Syd­ney Roost­ers NRL player

An­thony Watts the Bei­jing Olympics with the slick and well-re­hearsed spiel that came from the mouth of Tiger Woods when the golf­ing su­per­star went pub­lic to apol­o­gise for his phi­lan­der­ing.

‘‘ I can’t re­mem­ber who said it,’’ he wrote, ‘‘ but when Sally McLel­lan won the sil­ver in the 100m hur­dles at the Bei­jing Olympics, some­one de­scribed her joy­ful re­ac­tion as what sports stars sound like when they haven’t had any me­dia train­ing.’’

In case you were on Mars or some­thing that night dur­ing the Bei­jing Olympics, here’s a quick re­cap of what our Sally had to say.

‘‘ Oh my God, you’ve got to be kid­ding me. Is this real? This is amaz­ing,’’ she gasped as she strode off the track and was grabbed by a TV re­porter.

‘‘ I can’t be­lieve it. I don’t know what to say. I was prob­a­bly more pumped than I’ve ever been in my life.

‘‘ I ac­tu­ally ran my own race for once. In my head I was like ‘ I have to medal ( sic)’.

‘‘ I didn’t think I would, but I just wanted to, and I did.

‘‘ I didn’t even do a great time. I didn’t even hur­dle that great so imag­ine what I am go­ing to do when I hur­dle good. I knew I got sil­ver. Why is it tak­ing so long? I could have told them my­self that I got sil­ver.

‘‘ I don’t know how I did it. I just did it. I don’t know what hap­pened, I just ran it.’’

It was a spe­cial mo­ment and one to be cher­ished, hark­ing back to a time be­fore much of sport – make that pro­fes­sional sport – be­came too slick for its own good and lost its in­no­cence. There wasn’t a man­u­fac­tured phrase any­where. It came from the heart and al­though it might not be up there with the great speeches that have be­come bea­cons from crit­i­cal mo­ments in his­tory, few have for­got­ten the ela­tion.

Com­pare it with the blath­er­ings we’ve been sub­jected to from within the AFL ranks over the 17-year-old whose use of so­cial me­dia threat­ens to bring el­e­ments within the code to their knees.

Com­pare it with the slick lines from the Roost­ers over the Todd Car­ney drink-drive af­fair and the rev­e­la­tion that f o r mer Co wboy Ant h o n y Watts was shown the door by the bounc­ers at a Bondi pub.

Wider re­sponse is al­ways in­ter­est­ing in these cases. Old foot­ballers emerge to re­mind us boys will be boys and to con­demn the me­dia. Oth­ers gladly join that par­tic­u­lar band­wagon, since it’s eas­ier to shoot the mes­sen­ger than ad­dress the prob­lem.

Few of us are lily-white when it comes to con­sum­ing a beer or two too many, but most man­age to get them­selves home with­out the need for any­one to call se­cu­rity.

What par­tic­u­larly grates in this lat­est in­stance is that Watts is sup­posed to be re­cov­er­ing from a ma­jor knee in­jury and has said he hopes to be back in ac­tion be­fore Ori­gin time, when he’ll be needed all the more while oth­ers are on rep­re­sen­ta­tive du­ties. It’s in­ter­est­ing to think part of that re­cov­ery plan might in­volve work­outs with bounc­ers. And they call this elite sport?

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