Play­ing the game in the right spirit

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

Un­writ­ten laws

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.

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