Sore losers

This blog has been in my drafts for a wee while, sorry folks.

One thing I’ve enjoyed about watching the Olympics has been the coverage on Channel 7. I’ve seriously been impressed with the entire way they’ve shared the event with us; the Opening Ceremony was a delight, the commentators explained the ethos behind the changes, letting the performers, dancers and singers show the story without waffling on about what was going on. I am not going to lie, I was a mess, it was much more emotional than I can remember before – the segment reminding us all that the rain forest in Brazil is dwindling finished me off completely.

What has been less than impressive has been some of the print coverage of the fiesta, particularly the vitriol thrown towards the Australian team (as an example, should have been bookmarking them as I read them). From an English bird, on the cusp of becoming an Australian citizen, it’s not shown the Aussies in the best light. Some commentators have appeared to have taken it personally that performances have been down. This morning (nearly a month ago), Hubs and I heard on the radio a debate about whether more money should be invested in sport; $340m apparently isn’t enough.

From cricket to rugby, from cycling to swimming, sport in Australia is sacrosanct. We often have sport headlining the news news, and then the sporting news too. AFL has been completely dominated by TV schedules, just like the football (soccer) did in the UK. Every AFL game is now staggered across the weekend, so you can watch all of them back to back, from Thursday thru Monday night, should you wish to. No club, except a few interstate clubs and Geelong, have truly home grounds; most games are played at just a few stadiums in the Melbourne CBD. (We’ve even got a purpose built rectangular stadium, yet as it doesn’t hold enough people for money-grabbing promoters, a lot of soccer and rugby games are also played at either the MCG or Etihad stadiums).

I love sport, I really do. But hearing one commentator call Usain Bolt a ‘Genius’ really rankled. Usain Bolt is one of the best athletes this world has ever seen. He lights up the stadiums he competes in with his warmth and generous spirit towards everyone he meets; his performances are electrifying (pun intended), but genius? With the use of a different simile, I wouldn’t be experiencing such sour grapes. It’s like soccer players being described as ‘Heroic’, *combusts with fury*

In our lunchroom at work, the Managers agreed to install a TV for the duration of the Olympics. People have been laughing, joking, cheering (mostly quietly) competitors on our tea and lunch breaks – camaraderie is through the roof. We’re talking to colleagues we see once in a blue moon due to the disparate nature of our roles. The Olympics was an amateur sporting event, now to compete at top-flight status, that has been blown out the window. But at work, we’re loving watching the heats where competitors who are just awed to be there and are setting PBs, and jumping with glee at their results, excited to be there at all.

Hubs and I are trying to teach our son that sport is about taking part, showing up and doing your best on the day. Faster, higher, stronger. When he sees news coverage of a disappointing Australian Team, despite being in the top ten of the medal table, how do I explain that?

When our son hears coverage of the rugby or cricket and commentators calling for heads to roll because the Australian team have lost, how do I explain that the other team were just better? That they beat us, that not everyone can win all the time?

Being good at sport is one thing, being gracious losers is another. You do not need to spend millions of dollars on an enquiry into what went wrong. You need to consistently work at getting better, but on the day, it’s down to the race or event itself. Unless Usain Bolt is in your field – then you’re just along for the ride, but you’ll know you’ll have a great time.

And isn’t that the point of it all, really? To have fun, take part, push yourself. Not carry the weight of an entire outraged commentary team on your shoulders?

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