Playing the game in the right spirit
It is hard to escape all the discussion and debate involving the investigations, revelations and anxiety surrounding Australian cricket culture.
It is everywhere in the media and what we’re seeing and hearing suggests there is as much generalisation and bulldust as there is truth doing the rounds.
The trouble is, there is a fair amount of smoke spewing from this issue, which also tells us there has been a smouldering fire that has been waiting to ignite.
This matter has gained traction because it is about society, cultural evolution, personal sensibilities and the influence of our families, friends, associates and heroes.
Everyone has a stake in it, not just a group of elite sports people.
It reflects what we as a society are willing to accept, adopt and promote as ‘unwritten’ law. It is this law as much as rules of law that identifies who we are and for what we stand.
Having simple good manners remains as important today as it has ever been and Australians, while saluting fierce competition, resistance, bravery, effort and winners, have also historically railed against arrogance and pretentiousness.
Be a gentleman
There is still perhaps no greater compliment, for a male at least, to be referred to as a ‘gentleman’.
Another term of endearment describing a generous or magnanimous person is ‘a good sport’.
These terms gain greater status for an individual if they are also involved at the coalface of intense competition, be it in sport, politics and other public life, at all levels – and it obviously applies to women as much as men.
This idea, regardless of whether talented individuals like it or not, establishes a major difference between being a simple politician and a political statesperson, or a star and a champion sportsperson. Finding the best way of getting the attitudes of sporting players and administrators, especially in elite professional sport, in synchronisation with Australian expectations is far from rocket science.
It is simply about having respect for opponents, umpires, team-mates, fans, sponsors and the idea of sport in general.
It should be part of the skill set of anyone playing or administering competitive sport and even the slightest of breaches should be frowned upon.
This should not be confused with light-hearted gamesmanship, an essential part of any competitive sport.
Some unwritten laws pass their due-by date. We’ve all heard the expression ‘it’s just not cricket’ and at times used the expression to add sarcastic emphasis to describe something that might have dared to break an established ‘nicety’.
But perhaps we need to take time to further understand what this term really means and, for the lack of a more sophisticated expression – wake up to ourselves.