The year’s final major is now less than a week away, and all eyes will be on the defending champions, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, to see if they can repeat in 2019.
We know about the issues that cricket has faced. The ball-tampering scandal ruined the standards of the current Australian men’s cricket team, taking away key players because of their illegal insistence to win.
It led to Dave Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft being ostracised into months of exile, treated like criminals due to their arrogant disregard of time-honoured rules and ethics. The dust hasn’t fully settled, yet it is widely recognised that Australian cricket’s culture crisis bubbled over in Johannesburg on that fateful day.
But is cricket the only sport with these kinds of cultural issues?
We see it on an annual basis. Well-paid individuals like Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios rely on a lack of training and a year spent throwing tantrums and bridling themselves in some type of controversy when coming into the most important two-week home grand slam they face and receive warm welcomes until they are bundled out in a fit of anger.
As the years progress, we have seen the tantrums increase to the point where they turn on their own compatriots, slamming Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and complaining about the lack of preference they receive. How is this not worse than the one-off ball-tampering incident that occurred in March 2018?
When the press made clear the circumstances in South Africa, the public outcry was fierce, and it has barely relented every time the issue has been brought up. People have rigidly affirmed that they won’t watch Australian cricket again because of the trio, while others have claimed that their children have been marred by the poor behaviour of their role models.
Yet at the same time we see Tomic make a fool of himself on the tennis circuit while getting paid marvellously. When the Australian Open comes around we pin our hopes on him and Kyrgios because of their potential when they first broke onto the scene, not because of their poor work ethic and immature behaviour.
I know that an individualistic sport like tennis provides different mental challenges and stresses on the players, but this behaviour should never be tolerated. They receive barely a punishment, only a loss of the money, which they accrue so quickly and heavily.
In rugby league, we hear about whole squads being blacklisted from nightclubs and areas in Sydney because of their behaviour there. Role models? I don’t think so.
AFL players have steadily become involved in lewd text scandals and are recorded consuming illicit drugs. These illicit substances have resulted in many more problems that have tarnished the game.
I recognise cricket has had its fair share of controversy and cultural issues. The perpetrators were dealt with harshly and fairly. But is that just the tip of the iceberg? Is this a wider issue that has infiltrated our national pride in sport?
Perhaps our indulgence of and infatuation with sport has created such a bubble of pressure that we can’t help but produce copious amounts of sportspeople who act poorly and arrogantly to the point of creating embarrassing scandals.
This isn’t just a cricket issue. As proven by certain tennis players and other Australian sports, this could all be under the umbrella of one central issue that is sweeping over our sporting landscape.
Unless harsher punishments are dealt by sports other than cricket, we may never truly right these wrongs and properly punish these immature individuals who exploit our love for sport for their own selfish and material benefit.