We love our athletes to be squeaky clean. Compete hard but fair, represent the jersey with pride and honor, accept blame for the loss and disperse credit for the win, kiss the wife or hubby for the cameras and go home and thank Mum for cooking a delicious lamb roast.
That could be the Pollyanna white picket fence Disney version of it but you get my drift. Athletes are human and last time I checked always have been, they make mistakes, screw up, bend the rules or as in the case of three Australian Cricket players downright cheat.
Captain Steve Smith, David Warner and relative newcomer Cameron Bancroft were involved in a ball tampering fiasco against the South Africans that has sent the Australian media and public into a feeding frenzy.
It reads like a bad novel, conspiracy, hatching a plan, woeful execution of that plan, getting caught, trying to cover it up, the penalty, the public with their pitchforks and finally contrition.
First of all, its just plain dumb, how they ever thought that even getting away with tampering with a ball was possible with cameras all over the ground, not to mention taking a risk, knowing the footage could be beamed around the world with a potential firestorm to follow.
Just say it all went according to plan, they got away with it, gained an advantage and won the test. Then what. You’ve won but so what, you know you’ve won by cheating, where is the honor and joy in that, when deep down you know you’ve disrespected the ‘baggy green’ and every player that’s come before you.
So, what happens moving forward, well the Australian sporting reputation overseas has taken a hit, but time will move on, another athlete or team will do something illegal or dubious, and just like every other news story the public fascination will move onto something else, that’s what sheep do, follow the media narrative.
For Smith, Warner and Bancroft this will stay with them forever, the stain will never leave, just ask Trevor Chappell, they may or may not play for Australia again, I hope they do, I hope they find redemption in some way, the recent press conferences were full of genuine tears and regrets. It suggests they realize this was a colossal mistake and are looking to make amends.
This has been a week in Australian sport we’re not likely to soon forget, it is a reminder the athletes you think you’re cheering on are not as squeaky clean as you or the media make them out to be but everyone deserves a second chance, we at least should give them that.