The Roar
The Roar

Clyde Rathbone

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Joined February 2012

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26 caps for the Wallabies and stints with the Sharks and Brumbies in Super Rugby. Clyde is a Co-founder of Karma (https://karma.wiki/app/start/landing), a platform for writing and receiving open letters.

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Redsfan1, do they still play rugby in Brisbane? Checkmate 🙂

RATHBONE: Refs, rattling bones and the riddle of the Rugby Man

Some of the comments here are beautifully ironic. To be clear I’ll be embracing my inner rugby man this evening when the Brumbies take on the Blues.

RATHBONE: Refs, rattling bones and the riddle of the Rugby Man

Lano, your response is complete babble. Congratulations?

SPIRO: The case of David Pocock and homophobia in rugby

My pleasure PaulT…really important that we don’t let Dave off the hook too easily. Like you said he broke the law and if there’s one thing we know from history it’s that the law is never immoral.

RATHBONE: Pocock should shut up and play

Refusing to accept homophobic slurs isn’t politically correct – it’s morally correct. Wake up and smell the 2015…wow

SPIRO: The case of David Pocock and homophobia in rugby

Johnny J-Dog (if that’s even you’re real, real name)

I don’t agree with any speech being illegal, no words should be ring fenced and banned. Last time I checked there was no government intervention into this issue. Nobody is being forced by threat of imprisonment or violence to suppress their speech.

But it is a simple fact that ALL speech has consequences, these impacts exist on a spectrum from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘incredibly harmful’.

And the degree to which words can be harmful is entirely dictated by the context in which they are used. Jacques Potgieter is completely free to say anything he likes, but like everyone he isn’t free of the consequences of his speech.

It so happens that he chose to use a homophobic slur on live television where it could be being broadcast to millions of people. And so the potential harm of his behaviour is significant, hence the financial consequence of his indiscretion is also significant.

That you would equate athletes swearing to their use of homophobic slurs says a lot about your inability to grasp the nuance in this debate.

Your test fails itself.

SPIRO: The case of David Pocock and homophobia in rugby

I was going to say you’ve missed the point, but you haven’t even got that far…false equivalence appears to be your special talent.

RATHBONE: Pocock should shut up and play

I’m baffled as to how such a simple moral problem can so thoroughly confuse people.

“Certainly the prevailing opinion in Australian rugby circles yesterday was that Pocock should have handled the matter differently, perhaps by confronting the offender in the ‘Tahs dressing after the match.”

This is exactly the point. The “prevailing opinion” (I’m interested in how this is established?) needs to change. There is no greater demonstration of the need for change in the “prevailing opinion” than it’s own ignorant rigidity.

“I ask myself, is any homophobic comment so outrageous that it must be publicly exposed and re-education imposed on the person making it?

The answer to this question is painfully obvious. It only requires that we ask another:

“is any racist comment so outrageous that it must be publicly exposed and re-education imposed on the person making it?”

Don’t fail this test…

SPIRO: The case of David Pocock and homophobia in rugby

Thirty thousand reads in a day, I’m really please that this piece has generated discussion.

Some of the responses to this article criticising Dave are astronomically ironic. In fact you would struggle to design a more thorough vindication of his views and actions than what is contained in the criticism he’s received.

It is precisely because Dave is one under fire that we need to continue to expose unethical behaviour whenever we see it.

RATHBONE: Pocock should shut up and play

I’m astonished that the events of last Sunday lead you to call Pocock “dumb”. There is so much ignorance in your posts it’s hard to know where to begin.

RATHBONE: Pocock should shut up and play

^ = correct 🙂

RATHBONE: Pocock should shut up and play

Totally agree, as I responded to an early comment: I’m not arguing that all people shouldn’t aspire to be role models (defined as acting in a way that produces more moral outcomes). I’m arguing against the widespread assumption that athletes are good role models, not the fact that they should aspire to be.

I’d also argue that thinking one is doing the right thing is completely disconnected from actually doing the right thing. Intentions matter but outcomes are far more important.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

I’ve no problem with sponsorship in principal. It seems to me that certain types of sponsors have co-opted sports in a way that actually repels others potential sponsors. Why can’t we have a green energy or other ethical company sponsor a major team? Are we confined to fast food outlets, casinos and betting agencies as the only way to generate funding for sport?

I don’t think we are, however the only way to change things is to alter our expectations and our behaviour. That’s why tobacco sponsorship of sports died off, it became unacceptable and was replaced by other types of sponsorship. All I’m suggesting is that we continue to be mindful of what kinds of companies we choose to promote and the impact that sports sponsorship has on society.

In regards to your question about personal sponsorship. As a younger player I didn’t think much about sponsorship, I was just happy to be paid well to play the game I loved. Later in life I began thinking about my values and I’ve turned down a number of sponsorship opportunities when I realised I could not in good conscience promote a particular brand or product.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

Hi Kim, If you think I’ve drawn a line between the moral positions of Ali & Smith and cocaine use you’ve totally misinterpreted my argument. I’m 100% confident I’ve not made that comparison. Ciao

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

This isn’t about my desire to be admired or not, it’s about the assumption that people with a profile automatically qualify as worthy of role models status. That is just stupid. There is just an overwhelming amount of evidence that a public profile is not a predictor of moral behaviour.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

If I was attempting hyperbole I’d go the whole way with something like this: “the parties, the drugs, the popularity, the relationships, the (apparent) lack of responsibility, the groupies, the hangers-on, and in some cases the right to be an eternal man-child.” 🙂

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for anyone. But I am a prisoner to the experience I have in sport, one that doesn’t align with your assumptions. Perhaps Carney and Ferguson care for nothing but the next orgy, I’m not qualified to know.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

Shanky, i’m flattered but actually uncomfortable with the entire idea of role models. We are all, each of us, intelligent apes. I think it helps to remind ourselves of this fact in any moment we’re tempted to put another primate on a pedestal. You’ve been exposed to my virtues without ever having to consider my flaws, how could you possibly have an entirely objective view of me? If I’ve said or done things that you admire then know that I’ve said and done things that you would not. The distance between the people we admire and despise is almost never as great as we assume. I admire others, my heroes are those with the courage to pursue and communicate the truth, especially when it’s most difficult for them to do so. But even while I revere other people I can no longer convince myself that their greatest virtues aren’t available to me. Nobody has ascended to a moral position that cannot be emulated or exceeded, that is why moral progress is always possible 🙂

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

Exactly 🙂

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

In my entire career I never met a single athlete who was primarily motivated by the “lifestyle” you’ve outlined.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

I agree that technology is making the world a more informed, accountable and authentic place. But we’ve got a long way to go before we return to our historical norm — where everyone in the tribe knew the character and competency of the rest of the group. I have a feeling we will eventually return to this norm.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

Agreed, we would see a quantum leap forward in our culture.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

“As soon as you accept the money, you have an obligation to be a role model”…as defined by the obligations of contract, and certainly not as defined by a moral imperative. Of course there will be overlap between the most moral action and the actions that contracts demand…but it’s extremely naive to think this is autonomically the case.

“But if you want to accept the remuneration, you have to accept the obligations.” History is also littered with people who refused to accept the status quo and thereby changed the obligations.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

“Adults aren’t inclined to worship athletes.” In my experience I’ve observed just as much ‘hero worshiping’ from adults as I have from children. Of course this unwarranted adulation manifests differently but it’s by no means confined to kids.

The behaviour pattern Nike demands from ambassadors sometime overlaps with moral actions. But watch a Nike sponsored athlete investigate the issue of sweatshops and the idea of what a role model must be is quickly illustrated.

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?

This article isn’t about drugs or drug laws, but the events of last week obviously influenced this piece. My views about drug laws can be read/heard here:

I’m interviewed by the MTJAG team @ 11min20sec: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-02/more-than-just-a-game-march-2/6273410
Interview with the guys from Morning Glory SEN: https://m.soundcloud.com/sen1116/clyde-rathbone-on-morning-glory
My SMH Column: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/public-hysteria-betrays-irrational-view-of-drugs-20150221-13l8fq.html
And the Michael Pollan piece I sited: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment

RATHBONE: Athletes are just people, so why expect them to be role models?