“I’m not going to play unless I win.”
“If you don’t want to play with me, you’re not my friend anymore.”
“It’s not fair! I wasn’t ready.”
These might (or might not) be quotes from six-year-olds, but what we hear all too often these days from adults is not all that dissimilar.
What is it that sees sports fans – including prominent ones, such as ex-players and media pundits – lose perspective when things don’t go their way?
Is there some sort of irony-free bubble that exists around professional athletes, coaches and administrators that allows them to act like spoiled children while advocating a selfless, team-first ethos?
How else to explain so many people getting all bent out of shape because Ange Postecoglou isn’t coaching the Australian soccer team the way they want him to?
Of course, winning is the ultimate panacea, so if the Socceroos were winning more often and had qualified automatically for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, it wouldn’t matter how Postecoglou was managing the team.
How else to explain Taylor Walker, the captain of the Adelaide Football Club, essentially abusing and belittling one of his teammates for having the temerity to want to leave his ‘successful’ club?
Walker just wants everyone to stick together, he says, while creating an environment that lacks empathy and would make a lot of folks who don’t think or act like him ‘want away’, as they say.
The fact the Crows appear to be saying to Charlie Cameron ‘you’ll play for us next year, whether you want to or not’ only reinforces the impression that some in the sports world are only happy when everything’s stacked in their favour.
How else to explain the regular questioning of Steve Smith’s captaincy almost every time the Australian cricket team loses?
There may be plenty of things not going to plan in Australian cricket, but blaming Smith for middle-order batting collapses doesn’t make sense.
Of course, there are issues that arise in sport that understandably raise our collective ire.
Some things seem particularly unfair. Players and teams that seem to be most deserving don’t always come away with the points.
So, doesn’t it make more sense to keep the run-of-the-mill occurrences – like simply losing – in perspective?
If we’re going to get up in arms about every small, perceived injustice, punch holes in walls when a team we support (supposedly for enjoyment) loses, and call for players to be dropped and coaches to be sacked, where do we go when something legitimately upsetting happens?
Is it beyond us to appreciate that the beauty of sport is in the contest rather than the result, the taking part rather than the winning?
How hard is it to grasp that, if you’re going to be involved in sport, sometimes the other mob – you know, the one that’s exactly like yours, only wearing different colours – is better on the day?
In the end, nobody is forcing us to be involved in sport.
If we can’t be more mature about the ups and downs, perhaps it would be better for our health if we took up (non-competitive) crossword puzzling instead.