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‘It’s not often you’re abused before breakfast.’

So begins Mia Freedman’s piece, reflecting on her appearance on The Today Show, where she voiced her opinion on the overwhelming response to Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory last week. (Apologies for the hidden swear gem.) If you want to see the actual footage of what she said, here it is.

To surmise, her contention – ‘sportspeople aren’t heroes’.

Outrageous, I know.

Not surprisingly, her opinion was met with all kinds of vitriol from the sporting fraternity. And I say ‘not surprisingly’, not because all sports fans are one-dimensional meatheads but because I am slowly grasping the extent to which ‘us sports fans’ / certain sports fans in some quarters are completely unable to comprehend the extent to which broader parts of the community genuinely could not give a stuff about anybody’s exploits in the sporting arena.

So, if an Aussie wins le Tour, then yes, there’s maybe a tip of the hat (does anybody do that anymore?!) or a nod of the head in their direction but it’s coupled with a legitimate belief that we make too much of these ‘types of things’. (Talking marks added as a ‘tip of the hat’ to Evans’ historic win.) This joins with ‘their’ estimation that there are a myriad of other members of society more deserving of our respect and adoration.

Look, I oppose a lot of what Freedman had to say. But that’s not the point of this posting. I actually loved the dissection of the issue between her and Stefanovic. I agreed and disagreed with both of them at various times. Isn’t that what great debates should be about?

Don’t blame the media again!

Our news networks and papers do not help in this regard in shaping the belief that it’s all about us sports fans. In the last two weeks, our major newspaper in this humble city has had front pages dedicated to the sacking of a coach and the death of one. Not to begrudge the fallen and I am loathe to share anything but respect for this particular one, but a front page + a 9 page spread tells us something about the prevailing attitudes or the apparent prevailing pulse of the city. And 3 months ago, I would have read every word, so I’m not bagging those that did.

But it’s something to consider.

Limited worldview

My issue is not with those that cannot fathom an alternative worldview from their own sporting-centred one, but who choose to denounce ‘the opposition’ in such a vicious manner. It has all the facets of the ugly anti-carbon tax fiasco where Vicky Kasidis was hounded out of a Liberal Party community event. Read some of the comments at the bottom of that link … seriously. Think what you like about sport, the carbon tax or Amy Winehouse, but this is not China. People have the right to proffer opinions that differ to your own.

The problem is is that these boofheads give other sporting fans a bad rap. For the most part, the people I know who follow and love sport do not look up to these guys as role models and happily coexist alongside those who do not share their passion for sport; they even marry them! Sure many of us prematurely elevate long-term sporting stars ‘who are good blokes’ into the pantheon of outstanding citizens and have an inadequate depth of knowledge regarding the arts, medicine and other community leaders, but there are information gaps in all of us. I’ve also had the ‘pleasure’ of watching mates prattle on about some sporting intricacy without a clue that no one around them wants the conversation to continue and are only keeping their eyes open out of good old fashioned manners.

The issue as to whether sports professional are or are not role models is an interesting one; it doesn’t have to be contentious.

So, Mia, and all those who have copped it from overbearing sports nuts, ‘Sorry. Sincerely.’

But, come on, I mean, he won the Tour de France!


About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

3 responses »

  1. Cadels Evans feat, and many like it are inspiring, very inspiring. But to call him a hero, when we know very little of the man, his family, his contribution to society (and no, winning sports events is not a contribution to society) etc is now socially sanctioned foolishness.

    Watching him win was inspiring, like when Kieran Perkins won gold when no one expected him to, that was inspiring. Inspiration is something we can feel, it sends tingles down our spines. But a hero is something more.

    Heroes are people like Fred Hollows, a medical genius who dedicated most of his talents to people who would otherwise never been able to afford what he had to offer. Choi Beneflor of the Philippines who has dedicated every waking minute of the last 15 years of his life to seeing the poor fed and educated. Or people like Jon and Lisa Owen of UNOH in Bidwell Sydney, living amongst the worst of the urban poor in a neighborhood resembling something like that of the movie ‘Boyz’n the Hood’.

    These people are heroes. They’ve never won a major sporting event but they’re impact on the lives of individuals is far greater than if they won and F1 championship, AFL premiership or a Tour de France.

    Sport is inspiring, fun and satisfying, but does it produce real heroes. I think not.

    • A great comment, Brendan. Really well thought out. I love your inclusion of people like Hollows, Beneflor and Jon and Lisa Owen. They are amazing, I’ll agree. I do think, however, that ‘winning sports events’ does contribute to society on some levels – inspiring others to work hard, aspire, believe in themselves, feel proud as an Australian + more…

  2. In my own life I have been inspired by sports stars. I was inspired by many basketballers and motocross racers… be better at basketball and motocross.


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