Where are the sporting heroes of today?
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In sporting journalism it is the big stories you wait for, stories that when the precise words are chosen, typed on the keyboard, submitted, edited and published, can depict the situation to a tee.
Sometimes the words you chose can make the greatest of difference to a person’s perception or create the open forums in which debate rages and our ability to grasp one another’s opinions and learn something new are expanded.
In my experience each article is cleverly articulated by the writer to provide something unique. They possess an innate ability to portray, express and evoke the mutual feeling of readers which creates a sense of belonging, a feeling that you are not the only one who believed this should or should not have happened.
The catch with sporting journalism is you don’t get to choose your stories, sometimes they just choose you!
They have labeled it the darkest day in Australian sporting history.
My knowledge does not stretch as far to the extent in which I am able to provide an insightful opinion in a matter concerning the darkest day in Australian sporting history, though I still possess an opinion on the matter at hand.
As most of you would have heard, a year-long government investigation into Australian sport and its use of banned drugs and links to organised crime has been uncovered.
With such confidence was the Australian Crime Commission able to release the findings that it makes it hard to find anything that would make us think otherwise.
Who would have thought that in Australia, our sports as a collective unit, could draw such widespread negative attention, attention that could impact sport so horrendously, we could feel the ripple effects for decades to come.
Now to at least grasp the severity of these findings, when you have the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Australian Sporting Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) involved to target Australian sport as a collective group, you know it is serious.
Not to mention the congregation of all our major sports leaders from the ARU, NRL, AFL, FFA and Cricket Australia.
I can’t shrug the feeling that sits in the very pit of my stomach, almost to the point it makes me feel sick.
I won’t look into the findings of the report, nor will I look to defame any sports stars yet to be convicted, I write this article for the pure emotional response and feeling us spectators wish to divulge in response to what will be a long and strenuous time for sports fans.
I have to ask – Why cheat?
It’s a simple question really, but a question we will find many will struggle to answer as there is no simple response.
Now I’m sure you can all imagine being six years old again.
It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon; the sun is shining, not a cloud in sight and a comfortable temperature to attend your first sporting event (not exactly the experience for all of us, but you catch my drift).
I remember my first game, it was not the first game I had watched, but the first game I had seen live! The atmosphere was buzzing, butterflies in my stomach were fluttering and suspense was building.
I would see my hero in the flesh for the first time. Darren Lockyer.
There was this aura about him that very few could come close to touching, even on a good day. A man of humility, compassion, determination and commitment, no thought of cheating would even cross your mind.
For you it could be very different, it could be Wally Lewis, Gary Ablett Snr, David Campese, Allan Border, Johnny Warren etc. Whatever the case, you had your man and no one could touch him, and yet the stars of today sit firmly in the same boat.
They idolised these men who would go down in history as the greats of our wonderful sports, and at such a ripe young age, again no thought of cheating would even enter your cranium.
Though history would indicate, for so many of you out there as well, sometimes these heroes rear their ugly head and eradicate all feelings you had for them. They care not for how you feel, what you think or what you do, all they care about is themselves and their personal achievements.
They lose sight of what it truly means to be a sportsmen or even a sportswomen. They fail to recognise past achievements that were earn’t in the true spirit of the game and in an effort they not only emulate but concur those feats, all for what?
Constantly history has shown our greatest athletes get caught, and ACC made no hesitation in hiding that point.
What is interesting though is the lengths, sportsmen and women (in this particular case, men) will go to hide any trace of cheating.
Ultimately, it is the money these athletes do it for! They know what they are doing is wrong, unless you are a cyclist (not naming names) and you are convinced it was part and parcel of the job.
Unfortunately in life ‘money is a necessary evil,’ but it is the perception that comes with money that can formulate a person’s need or want.
Money is a need, not a want. For without money I would struggle to live comfortably within my means.
Though this hard earned money I work for, ensuring the needs of my family are met, also occasionally allows me to enjoy the adventures of life and I just so happen to choose a sporting event as my leisurely adventure.
In fact we are all in the same boat once again.
You should be able to easily grasp my point by now therefore my experiences require no more explanation.
For you see these sports we love, and I mean love, provide us with some of the most wonderful experiences we will come across in our lives. These sporting heroes and icons have all shared these experiences with us before but possess the innate ability to excel in something they are meant to do, but without us these opportunities are not created.
Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, coaches, team mates, scouts, sponsors, audiences and fans all contribute to the success of our sports stars, it is their ability to stand out above the rest which makes them great in the eye of the beholder and thus your sporting hero stands before you.
Most of us will have already witnessed some of the greatest sporting moments in Australian history and our heroes will remain heroes but the emotion and passion we share could be tarnished for our children and future generations to come.
It is essential that these athletes grasp the true concept of what it is to be a hero!