SOMETIMES in this game, this journalism game, you have to take a step back and wonder whether we put too much pressure on young sportspeople.We are dealing with young men and women in their late teens, early 20s. Most haven’t experienced much of life; in fact, most live their lives in the bubble that surrounds professional sportspeople. Yet the media often pursues them expecting a grown-up response. As a 52-year-old sports commentator with kids of my own, you become a lot more understanding as you get older.
Anthony Milford is a case in point. Should we have expected the teenager to handle the tug-of-war between the Broncos and the Raiders any differently? He said he left it up to his manager. If his manager said “stay”, I get the impression he would have stayed.
Put yourself in Milford’s shoes; as a 19-year-old how would we have performed in front of television cameras expecting a definitive response to questions? Some 19-year-olds I have come across have trouble saying much at all, yet we expect this young footballer to be different because he plays in the NRL.
Looking back over the past 25 years, would you have been able to predict that the Raiders would produce eight NRL coaches, the current two origin coaches, and two politicians through their playing ranks?
Having known most of them in their late teens and 20s, what they were like then bears little resemblance to how they are now.
No way would I have predicted that Glen Lazarus and Paul Osborne would become politicians or that Craig Bellamy would emerge as a premiership-winning coach. Or that Ricky Stuart would win a premiership as a coach before coaching NSW and Australia, or that Andrew McFadden would become a first-grade coach.
Michael Maguire was reasonably quiet when he came to the Raiders from rugby union and there was little to indicate that he would become a first-grade coach.
Laurie Daley lived life at 100 miles an hour as a young man, but the person we see now is very different. These days he laughs at some of the things he got up to, such as dropping the premiership trophy.
The same with Mal Meninga, David Furner and Neil Henry.
Sometimes our expectations of young sportspeople, in terms of decision-making and their ability in front of the microphone, are in excess of what we expect from other people of their age, which is something we need to always consider when making a judgment about them.
STEPHEN Moore has become the sixth Brumbies’ player to captain the Wallabies, which is a record in the modern era.
The others are Stirling Mortlock, George Smith, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom and George Gregan.
Admittedly, Pocock and Elsom had already captained the Wallabies before they joined the Brumbies, but we can still claim them in our statistics book!
It says much about the culture within the Brumbies that breeds players with leadership skills.
Tim Gavel was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday list for his service to the media as a sports broadcaster, and to the community.