Gavel / So much vitriol, in 140 characters or less

“What prompts somebody to walk up to a footballer and provide him with an outpouring of his vast knowledge of rugby union? It’s the equivalent of sporting road rage!” writes sport columnist TIM GAVEL

SPORTSPEOPLE have never received as much free advice as they are currently being forced to entertain.

Tim Gavel

Tim Gavel.

Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on everything to do with sport and some people seem empowered by their experience with social media feeling they can vent their spleen instantly without any filter.

We are seeing it in full flight with the return of Australia’s Olympians.

The suggestion the team failed because it won “only” eight gold medals is a line that people seem to want to push, with many on social media questioning the amount of money spent and whether it represents value for money. Some, it would seem, are trying to outdo one another to see who can express the most vitriol in 140 characters or less!

It is a deluded approach from those critical of Australia’s Olympians; I am with Kim Brennan on this one.

Surely, we should have enormous pride in the performance of our team; to make the team is an achievement in itself. Additionally, the Olympic stage is a world stage and some of the feats remind us of our human spirit.

If there’s a lesson, it’s been that we need to be watchful of our expectations, particularly if success is only seen in terms of Australian gold. Think of that moment when NZ’s Nikki Hamblin and US runner Abbey D’Agostino both fell in the 5000-metre heat. D’Agostino, with a torn ACL and other injuries, helped Hamblin to her feet, only to fall again in agony. Hamblin showed her spirit by helping D’Agostino over the line where they embraced.

What about Yusra Mardini, the 18-year-old representing the first Olympic refugee team? She won the first heat of the 100-metres butterfly, but wasn’t fast enough to make it into the finals. Only last year she had escaped from Syria aboard a leaky boat that sank leaving her to swim to Lesbos with her sister.

There are many other great stories – Bolt; Van Niekerk, who broke Michael Johnson’s 1999, 400-metre track time; Farah, who won back-to-back 5000 and 10,000-metre runs in London and Rio; the Fijian Rugby 7s side; Phelps and Elaine Thompson. And how can we forget Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s first female medalist?

WALLABIES’ and Brumbies’ captain Stephen Moore told me about an experience he had this year while shopping in Curtin. He was getting his groceries a couple of days after a test and was approached by a man who proceeded to give him some free advice. It was a good, old-fashioned spray in the supermarket.

Stephen Moore...  copped a good, old-fashioned spray in the supermarket.

Stephen Moore… copped a good, old-fashioned spray in the supermarket.

It is not as if Moore hadn’t been trying in the test. Stephen Larkham has described him as one of the most whole-hearted, passionate players that he has played with or coached.

What prompts somebody to walk up to a footballer and provide him with an outpouring of his vast knowledge of rugby union? It’s the equivalent of sporting road rage!

Of all people, Moore does not deserve this from the Canberra community. Not only has he led the Brumbies with distinction and integrity; he has thrown himself into giving a hand through a variety of local charities, using his profile to promote community causes.

He heads to Queensland for the next three years; he will be missed and the hope from many is that he will return to live in Canberra one day.

So it’s worth having a bit of a think before handing out advice either face-to-face or through social media. Contemplate your own performance as a member of the community before telling others what they should or shouldn’t do.

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