Showing pride in the Wallabies jersey
Of these two changes Beale got the most attention.
This attention was the result of his off-field antics in Brisbane before the first Test and the pending assault charges against him. Although most of the commentary has been about Beale being excited about the upcoming game very little has been said about his selection and whether his off-field actions should have affected Deans’ and the ARU’s decision.
I hate reading commentary about the off-field behaviour of sports stars for two reasons: firstly it’s often a case of trial by media, which no one deserves. Secondly, they are professional sportsmen and so their off-field antics should not be discussed by sporting journalists (although social commentators might have fair game).
So I’ll tread with caution and only use Beale as an example and reiterate he is innocent until proven guilty.
Incidents like this highlight the conflict of motives in sport during the professional era. One side is the pride and responsibility for representing your club, state or country and on the other is the pay packet.
Both are as equally as important as each other. We, as fans, can’t expect sportspeople to do what they do for nothing. Nor can players forget that they represent the people on the sidelines.
Most of the time that balance works well but sometimes the representation side of things is forgotten. Beale is a professional but he also represents the people of Melbourne when he plays for the Rebels and Australians when he plays for the Wallabies.
If Beale, and others, represents us we are allowed to have a certain sense of pride in them not only for what they do on the field but off it as well. We want to know that we are represented by people who conduct themselves in a manner we would expect of ourselves.
There is a risk of Brett Stewart situation unfolding if the ARU were to act too rash and quickly with Beale.
However, the ARU should be careful not to tarnish the Wallabies brand, the brand that Eales, Farr-Jones and Ella all played for.
At the risk of sounding like a wowser, the Wallabies have a proud history and anyone who puts on that gold jersey should respect that history and realise they have a responsibility to maintain the reputation of the team.
Unfortunately, for today’s professionals that reputation extends to off the field. The ARU, or Deans, shouldn’t be judge, jury or executioner, but they are administrators of the game and part of that administration is ensuring its reputation remains in tact.
This balance is tough to strike.
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