Gavel / Tall tales but depressingly true

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IT is a testing time for those passionate about sport. 

If it’s not the Russian track and field team systematically doping its way to success, it could be FIFA doing its best to destroy any faith you had in a “level playing field”.

Tim Gavel.
Tim Gavel.
The choice extends also to the cricket match-fixing trial underway in London or the media stories about the French soccer players’ sex tapes blackmail plot.

The exploits of Lance Armstrong and Mike Tyson are beginning to sound so passé! 

Sport itself is doing its level best to destroy its supporter base and credibility. 

Over the past year or so I have been considering writing a fictional book based around corruption in sport, but every time I undertake research to set the plot and dream up some outrageous scenario unlikely to ever come to fruition, there it is front and centre in the media somewhere in the world!

In fact, it has got to the stage where reality has outdone fiction. You couldn’t make up some of the goings on with the Russian doping scandal nor FIFA for that matter. 

But when you think the negatives are starting to overtake the positives in sport, a quick look at the Canberra sporting landscape provides some hope.

Where else in Australia, per head of population, do we have people involved in such a positive way in the community, using sport as a vehicle? 

Former Raiders’ skipper Alan Tongue is doing incredible work doing his best to ensure prisoners in Canberra have the confidence and skill-set to make a contribution to society before their release.

He is also discussing issues such as domestic violence with detainees with the view that positive understandings will lead to a better future.

Then there’s his work with the Aspire leadership program backed by Matthew Herbert and the team at LJ Hooker.

Alan is a great role model for all people in and out of sport. 

Three days after arriving home battered and bruised from the World Cup, Wallabies’ and Brumbies’ flanker David Pocock was hosting a fundraiser at the ANU for his charity eightytwenty Vision, which is focused on improving health and education in Zimbabwe.

Ricky Stuart is looking to establish a second respite centre for families with autistic children in Canberra.

This past week I witnessed first hand the impact Capitals’ coach Carrie Graf can have on the lives of young women seeking role models in leadership.

Despite her busy schedule, she still manages to give time and effort to the community.

There are others, among them Robert de Castella, whose Indigenous Marathon Project has changed the lives of many throughout Australia. 

So when it appears as though sport has no moral compass, it’s worth remembering what some at the highest level are doing in the Canberra community. These people use their position and sport for the good of this community and beyond. They are worth our attention, support and admiration.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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