Australia’s sporting mojo has all but disappeared
Adam Scott’s British Open collapse is just another chapter typical of Australia’s sporting story across the past 10 years. Gone are the days when we could boast our sporting superiority on the international stage and draw respect from much larger nations.
In the British Open, Scott became the fourth Australian since 2007 to lose after leading into the final round. Our procession of unsuccessful sporting campaigns now warrants our place as the butt of sporting jokes, which was traditionally reserved for such nations as England, South Africa and Spain.
The rot commenced in 2003, when we lost a sole Ashes Test (before recovering to win the World Cup); Mark Philippoussis lost the Wimbledon Final to Roger Federer (before recovering to help win the Davis Cup); New Zealand claimed Australia’s world netball championship; and Australia allowed England to win their first ever Rugby World Cup on our home turf.
What has followed has been an end of the golden era of Australian sport and the relinquishing of many cherished titles, with a sprinkling of success stories in between.
The Wallabies have been spluttering along in major tournaments since 2003 and could be a permanent second-class citizen now that the All Blacks have discovered their mojo. Even the Kangaroos inexplicably lost to the Kiwis in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
The Australian cricket team have joined the middle of the pack at Test level, having previously thrashed the Rest of the World eleven, owned every major trophy, and had legitimate claims that our domestic teams could have made World Cup semi-finals.
Australian tennis has completely flatlined since the 2003 Davis Cup victory; we haven’t won a major golf tournament since Geoff Ogilvy triumphed in the 2006 US Open; and the Socceroos’ golden generation are well into their 30s, with Tim Cahill’s departure to Major League Soccer making it the first time since the late 1990s that Australia has not had a significant player in the English Premier League.
It seems Australia’s plight can be attributed to the new generation of athletes having a greater sense of complacency and entitlement, compared to the previous generation who were forced to work harder through tougher economic times locally in a pre-globilisation era. Everything comes easier these days due to technology, particularly in Australia where the economy is so much stronger than the rest of the world.
Also to blame for Australia’s international sporting struggles is the domination of AFL and NRL in attracting the latest athletes coming through the ranks. These two leagues offer great financial opportunities along with the chance to perform at home and achieve the highest celebrity status in Australia.
We haven’t yet hit rock bottom – that would require South Africa to win a cricket World Cup, and the status quo to be maintained with the loss of our netball, hockey and surfing world championships.
But it’s hard to imagine Australia’s global sporting reputation improving over the next decade.
And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. We can get back to our roots, backing ourselves as underdogs while enjoying our lifestyle in one of the strongest economies in the world, while we still can.