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Australians: Bad Losers; Worse Winners

AP, Getty Images

AP, Getty Images

It would be tempting to attribute the character of the professional Australian sportsman and sportswoman to that of their nation’s first arrivals. But that would be racist, another area in which we cannot compete with our trans-Tasman neighbours.

The Australians see themselves as a sporting nation. And in one sense they are. The Aussies are very good at sport; they win a lot of games. But in the other sense of the word “sporting” – characterised as sportsmanlike conduct, fair-minded, generous – they are considerably less adept. In that sense, whether in cricket, netball or rugby, they are an unsporting people. It is perhaps the one area in which we have nothing in common.

The difference between the two nations can be seen exemplified in two photographs in this morning’s Herald. In one the gracious Grant Elliott is seen helping a distraught and weeping South African player to his feet after his country lost the semi-final against the Black Caps. In the other, three Australian players – Brad Haddin, James Faulkner and Pat Cummins – are seen sneering and laughing at Elliott, as he walks away after scoring a brilliant 83 in last night’s World Cup Final. And that was merely the culmination of the sledging to which they had subjected Elliott throughout his innings.

These are not sportsmen. They are thugs. The word comes from the Hindi “thag”, meaning a “thief” or “rogue” and specifically a member of a confederacy of professional assassins who travelled in gangs throughout India for several hundred years. Of course that is not what we mean by the word now and I would certainly not want to suggest that this sneering trio deserve such a comparison. They don’t. Today the word suggests something along the lines of an uncivilised, offensive, ignorant, aggressive, nasty and thoroughly unpleasant individual. So that will do quite nicely to describe these three Australian “sportsmen”.

As I said, “It would be tempting…”

 

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