Australian sport struck by reality

By Domenic Favata

We were naïve to think that Australian sport was squeaky clean following the Lance Armstrong saga, with I, like many a proud sports follower, blind to the realities of not just sport, but society.

Nowadays, society is full of vice, whether it is drugs, alcohol or gambling, all of which young Australian sportsman and women are vulnerable to, given their abundance of time and outrageous paychecks. However, the more damning factor why our sportsmen and women are becoming more and more susceptible to such practices is the state of society as a whole, a culture driven by money and success, where the failure to accomplish these feats sees one resort to these vices as the miracle cure.

Our sportsmen and women are resorting to these vices not out of desperation, but out of determination, a desire to win at all costs, even if that means cheating. The crime commission’s report followed the Essendon bombshell, which indicated that Australian sport in general is tainted with illegal practices. The schoolboy antics of the Australian relay team soon followed, with the abusing of stillnox again indicating that some Australian sportsmen and women have a problem with substance abuse, whether it be legal or illegal. NRL poster boy Ben Barba was then suspended indefinitely by the Bulldogs, due to possible alcohol abuse and a gambling addiction, and soccer has and will always be clouded by match-fixing. We must also not forget the Damien Oliver gambling drama last November, and not expect such behaviors to occur again from a jockey, given that the racing industry is a gambling industry, and anyone who says otherwise should merely ask themselves why we have a public holiday to place a bet. Some may argue that sports science is taking too much of stance in sport, that athletes are paid too highly or that betting agencies dominate the commercial aspect of sport. I say look to the realities of society, whether we like it or not our world is being overrun with drugs, gambling and the like, and this culture of success, money and perfection does not help to defend our athletes from such exploits.

This culture of winning at all costs was perhaps best described by Lance Armstrong, who suggested that one of the reasons why he doped was to ‘maintain a level playing field,’ an explanation that appeared fruitless to the cycling world. The AFL’s cut-throat competitiveness, the expectations of the swimmers and new-age of sports science are all factors contributing to this growing culture of ‘perfection,’ whereby the leading edge has become greater than the need for hard work. This is the concern that sport has, despite whether or not anyone or any sport has tested positive or been found guilty, good old fashioned hard work has been substituted by the debatable practices of sport scientists .

All sports in Australia are now either tainted, or are looking over their shoulders, as the last month has unraveled a ticking time-bomb in sport, with the possible ramifications not only to lower Australia’s sports appeal, but to possibly discourage the local fan from supporting their team or sport.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts Domenic. Just thinking that this must be awful as a young footy supporter, it’s like the “idea” of sports gets shattered, and instead of being something joyful, it because yet another one of the bad news stories blasted to us from TV, Radio and papers. Perhaps we’re just catching up with the reality that’s always been there, we just hear and know about it now, over and over and over.

    And perhaps all the spotlighting will bring it to the fore in not just the athletes minds but ours. We need to be more mindful of our behaviour, whether you are a sportsperson or a spectator. Treat people, starting with ourselves and our bodies, and then each other, with more care and respect.

    Thankyou for your thoughts


  2. Ripsnorter says

    Sports at the highest level have unfortunately always and will always be clouded by money and therefore cheating – drugs , bribery, laying down or tanking, salary cap breaches, king hits, poisening, death threats and probably murder are all ways that sports people have won and lost or not competed over the ages to benefit themselves or someone else for financial gain.

    This is how business works and sports has and will always be big business
    I know how serious people take local amateur sport so it shouldn’t shock the extent people will go to when a result actual matters.

    The win at all costs is not about winning that event but the fact that what comes with winning and being competetive at the highest levels of high profile sports – money, a great lifestyle, and fame and most people could at least do with 2 of those things – all by doing something enjoyable that you may still love doing.

    As for the swimmers – they are all just looking for excuses instead of conceding that maybe we were beaton by better swimmers, honestly someone knocks on a hotel door 2 weeks before you swim and that is the reason you didn’t win – who is indulging these brats – us dumb taxpayers unfortunately.

  3. Tony Robb says

    I’d suggest you take a break from the big show and get back to Grass roots sports. That’s what sport is about Fun and passion The big show is rubbish and eventually the VFL etc will be more on the nose than politicians who have equal amounts of spin and mirrors . Thanks for your item


  4. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Enjoyed your article Dom. It expresses the concern of your generation in regards to how we view sport and how it can regain our trust. Tend to agree with Tony. The Big Show and those who follow it take themselves far too seriously. When sport loses its humour, its soul becomes tainted.

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