Bernard Tomic is back to being Australian sport’s public enemy No.1.
He is, apparently, an “embarrassment”. Was it because he lost his first-round match to 27th seed Mischa Zverev at Wimbledon?
Not really, because that result wasn’t really a shock. Zverev is ranked 29 places higher than Tomic.
It was because he said things in his post-match media conference that a lot of people are extremely unhappy about. Things they think he shouldn’t have said.
“I don’t know why, but I felt a little bit bored out there to be completely honest with you,” was just one of the 24-year-old’s much-criticised remarks.
And by the time he got to the bit about tennis being just a job that he’d keep doing to earn enough in the next 10 years to never have to work again, the outrage meter was heading off the scale.
Why? Do we all love our jobs for every minute of every day?
Does everyone else give 100 per cent effort at all times, always turning up to their workplace in prime mental and physical condition? Of course not.
We simply expect professionals to say all the right things about doing all the right things.
But we’ve never experienced the relentless grind of being groomed to play sport for a living from a young age, then travelling from place to place plying an unforgiving trade.
In our jobs, we never have to cope with the harsh reality of losing, even after preparing really well and trying as hard as we can.
So, would we be happier if he just kept those “honest” thoughts to himself?
The short answer is “yes”.
How dare Tomic – who, often to his detriment, is brutally honest – shatter our illusions that playing sport for money is the greatest career in the world?
How dare he not play the time-honoured post-match game of spouting meaningless platitudes?
How dare he be … different?
For one thing, the much-publicised mental health battles of several leading sportspeople should have taught us that professional sport isn’t all beer and skittles.
For another, we live in an age of hypocrisy, where we complain about athletes talking in clichés and acting like robots, but complain even louder when one is honest or shows any non-conformist traits.
We proclaim that everyone has the right to be who they want to be, live how they want to live, and act in ways that they feel comfortable with … yet are poised to pounce if they stray outside boundaries that we are comfortable with.
Who has Tomic offended?
Australian commentator Rennae Stubbs labelled the things he said as “a disgrace not only to tennis, but to Australian tennis”.
How so? Did he reveal a dark secret that it’s possible to play tennis professionally, even to gain a decent position in the rankings, without loving the sport?
He wasn’t representing Australia, so let’s not get caught up in that one.
Tomic is his own man, in an individual sport.
Some have suggested he return his prizemoney, around $A60,000. It was even put to him in the media conference.
How ridiculous. He was playing at Wimbledon because his results over years on the tennis circuit earned him that place.
He didn’t go to work for just the 84 minutes his match lasted, even if that was all we saw of his efforts. He qualified for the tournament because of his world ranking.
Clearly Tomic has enjoyed tennis more in the past.
He won consistently enough to spend 30 weeks in the top 20, peaking at No.17 just 18 months ago.
How he feels right now after this loss is how he feels this week.
Who among us has any right to tell him not to feel like that?