Our obsession with the best (sometimes) means poor behaviour is tolerated


People want to watch the very best. Understandable, but there is a consequence.


Too often as a result, poor attitude and conduct is not only tolerated but promoted. Think Andy Murray & Nick Kyrgios. This is not a new phenomena, over the years we watched and now glorify the likes of McEnroe, Connors & Natasse. And in golf, read Tiger.


This discussion piece is simply to question whether ultimate success is a sufficient reason to excuse poor conduct.


For da mcdonnell, the real question is actually whether it is sufficient to relegate the ideals of sport.


The objective answer appears to be – apparently so. Not surprisingly, da has the opposite view.


The obvious case in point is the current bad boy of sport, Nick Kyrgios. It is clear he enjoys the notoriety. His family defends him. That is telling. He is selected for Davis Cup and television broadcasters and sponsors promote him. That is telling. At the end of the day people watch him, and that is particularly telling.


Tiger is an interesting specimen. His inclusion in this instance is not for any off course behaviour. That is a separate issue and not the point of this exercise. He makes the list for his on course tantrums that were tolerated. Broadcasters refused to show the vision resulting in a sanitised version of events. He dominated the sport, dictated televisions audiences and as a consequence was untouchable.


These comments can be applied to any sport and Australia is not immune. Don’t get me started on the likes of Damian Oliver, Anthony Mundine, Jon Steffensen, and all those soccer & basketball coaches who prowl the touch line and berate referees as a matter of course. Then there is the Australian cricket side. Those largely unlovable flat track bullies who currently only perform on home turf. The side whose recent captain thought it acceptable to tell an opposing (and I may add tail ender) batsman ………. “ to get ready for a F#$#@% broken arm”


There is of course a choice.


It is open to all to support and watch only those players who align with your ideals and standards. That doesn’t mean sport persons have to be church going choirboys who concede two foot putts and hand over coaches medallions.


It simply requires athletes being competitive within the bounds of being reasonable and respectful of opponents and the sport. The reality is the vast majority of of players are deserving of our attention, admiration and accolades. Thankfully those to be shunned are the exceptions, not the rule.


For a moment though, let us imagine a Bernard Tomic match played to an empty stand. Robert Allenby trudging the fairways without a caddy or spectators and a press conferences with the likes of Ricky Stewart, Mick Malthouse & Graham Arnold having no reporters in sight.


Sport is very good at setting standards in the community. Sport has been instrumental in shaping views on issues like racism, gender equality, domestic violence and the gay and lesbian community. To be commended. Funny though, some sports fail to address the very issue which is fundamental to their very existence and why sport exists. Too often the sport rewards the self absorbed, self indulged, ugly parent created, poorly managed sports person because they have achieved. The fact they bring the sport into disrepute is too often ignored. Tennis is the club house leader, US sport sets high standards in low standards, cycling for years has been a standout and soccer’s prima donna’s are in the line of sight. To often in sport, the tail wags the dog. Rather than the players respecting the sport & the public, those players with a lack of maturity and with few redeeming features seek to dictate terms. Disappointing when they are allowed to do so. Unfortunate the viewing public tolerate it and thereby encourage it.


But why.


Tournaments are commercial beings. They require the stars to attract crowds and sponsors.


You are a tournament director. Who do you want. Nick Kyrgios ranked 13, or Dominic Thiem and David Goffin ranked above him. Regretfully the answer is clear. So what if that means an umpire is demeaned, a spectator is abused and the press conference is a shambles. All the better. If the result is exposure, it’s not just who cares, but it is a positively good outcome. It’s a sad indictment.


Humour da for a moment. Consider if per chance people power was sufficient that a class action of right thinking sports fans (defined as being all those people who agree with da) actually boycotted players who exhibited poor behaviour. Imagine how it may influence player behaviour. Imagine the effect on sponsors, tournaments organisers and the media. Imagine ……… all the people living for today ………….. Okay, it wont happen, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.


No doubt the detracting argument is the assertion that it means characters and personalities in sport are discouraged. That is not, nor should it be the case. What is intended is to identify the perennial pains who fail to heed numerous warnings and continue in a way that is disrespectful of referees, other players, spectators and the sport.


The da mcdonell stand.


To impose a “gap year” on certain players. Those who deserve to be, and will be ignored.


It is not a life sentence, except for perhaps for Kyrgios who appears to have no redeeming features or capacity for change. The “gap year” is exactly that. A year. December is devoted to identifying those to placed on, and those to be removed from “the dam boycott” list for the following year.


One question may be how to identify the players to be part of the exclusion zone. At what level is it to be pitched. May not like certain players who are hard and tough or outspoken. As a Melbourne supporter have had a a lifetime disliking Jordan Lewis. He is now on the Demons list. Whilst he will always be that “ex Hawthorn” player, he will not make this list. That is not its purpose. Indeed there would be few if any from the AFL although Hayden Ballantyne springs to mind.


It is really for those who are so far from the ideals of sport that they ought not be tolerated.


Must also never forget in this debate, the other side of the coin. The positive aspect. Those sport persons to be glorified for their demonstration of exceptional sporting traits. They don’t need to be the stars of the sport, although to be at the top and have done so in a sporting fashion is deserving of a sainthood. Federer, Jason Day, Dangerfield, Usain Bolt, Chris Froome & Jack Watts in their given sports should be bottled and adored.


Would be interested in readers opinions. The dam sport questions:


– Should ultimate sports success excuse poor behaviour,


– Would you ever actually/seriously refuse to watch a sport person as a result of their attitude or conduct, or is the reverse the case


– If you were to shun a sports person for conduct and attitude in 2017, who would it be,


– In the positive ledger, who are the most inspiring (not necessarily the best) sports persons based on attitude and sporting traits.


.da mcdonell welcomes your views.


Regards da mcdonell.

About da mcdonell

Established "dam Sports Crisis Managment" to salvage & reinvigorate flagging careers of elite athletes. In practice mentoring rather than coaching or managing in the traditional sense. In the Almanac, we focus on the AFL players of the "dam AFL sports team"


  1. I think that the genie has well and truly escaped the bottle. Bad behavior is now endemic, the ends justify the means apparently. In practice how on earth are you going to close down TV audiences for anything? People want to watch this stuff even if it involves behavior” demeaning and embarrassing to the country to the extent of making one sick to the stomach. By the way I have never seen our elite women behave in an obnoxious way, indeed on the contrary the way that they carry themselves is a credit to them, and through them,the country.

  2. Good read Da. Bill Simmons, when he was paid by ESPN, had the concept of a Sports Czar. The Sports Czar would overseee all punishment for elite athletes and take it out of the hands of the league’s themselves. Primarily this was at the time when the NFL acted in an appalling manner around domestic violence involving it’s players so that’s what it focused on but it could be applied elsewhere. Your idea has merit.

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