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As Australians, we love our sport. We love to watch it and play and just generally be involved in it. When an individual is elevated to the upper echelons of the sporting world, we turn them into heroes. They are the people we look up to, and we expect them to be role models. We applaud them for achievements and we are disappointed when they do something wrong. Not just when they do wrong on the sporting field, either- their personal lives are held up for scrutiny, too. I am not getting into a discussion about behaviour most commonly associated with football players- a lot of the stories we hear are not “invasions of privacy” but exposures of crime. You know the stories I am talking about. Generally speaking, Australian sportspeople are given celebrity status, and their every action is reported and scrutinized.

Lately, Shane Warne has found himself back in the news. This time, it is because of his relationship with Liz Hurley, whatever it may be. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that no one is going to be discussing Warnie’s sporting prowess. It doesn’t exist anymore, and his status as a love rat is what has maintained his celebrity. It is nice to read about sportspeople’s sporting, though.

Recently, it seems that Australian sport has been in a bit of a rut. The Australia Test Cricket team met a great deal of derision in the media and between friends and acquaintances. I think the sport in which Australia has really dropped the ball, so to speak, is cricket. We have had many great players in this sport throughout the years who saw us standing proud on the international stage. Now, tennis fans and officials dismiss Australian players in major events. Lleyton Hewitt is past his prime, Bernard Tomic hasn’t reached his yet, Samantha Stosur is a chronic choker and Jelena Dokic has been the “come back queen” for about five years. The really strange thing about these players, though, is that they continue to hold onto their hero status in spite of their complete lack of achievements.
Every grand slam, Lleyton Hewitt is held up as “Australia’s great chance” or something similar. It is a shame to think that our best hope is a veteran of the game who rarely advances past the second round. In this year’s Australian Open, when Bernard Tomic faced Rafael Nadal, people spoke about him as though he had any kind of chance whatsoever. He was the young “giant killer”, ready to take on one of the biggest monsters of all. He did play well, but ultimately lost in straight sets.

On the women’s circuit, Samantha Stosur is, admittedly, deserving of acclaim. She has reached the top ten of the rankings and performed well in tournaments. I find it amusing, though, that the ads in which she featured continued to play throughout the Australian Open, long after she was knocked out. Still, she has improved astronomically and plays very well. The one I find very strange, though, is Jelena Dokic. She has never won major tournaments, though she has reached semi-finals. Sure, she plays well and she has won some tough matches. Realistically, though, I think people would die of shock if she ever won a grand slam. Now, as she faces Kim Clijsters in the Paris Open, she is being reported as the “final hurdle” that Clijsters must face before becoming number one. Apparently, she will be a tough hurdle to clear and one Clijsters will need to prepare herself physically and mentally for. I don’t think so- I think Clijsters will win convincingly and no one will be surprised.

This is all an example of misplaced heroism. We are so determined to make heroes of our sportspeople that we will worship them even when they don’t win. Or have never won.

 

Published: Feb 11, 2011 5:08pm by cbere.

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79 comments

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    Interessingly, you don’t see any of all that non-sense in motor racing. Perhaps it is because those people have to work 7 days a week, 365 days a year in order to win.

    Allan Moffat, Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Larry Perkins were the heroes of my generation. And they were all more concern about building a winning car than about what people thought of them.

    Today sport people make too much money. The fame and power of money lead them on the wrong path because they don’t know how to handle themselve. Racing drivers don’t make much money in Australia, and even if they did, all that money would be re-invested in a new car.

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