Sport’s silver lining
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?