Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FWIW I agree with Mia. And I reckon Cadel would, too

Not that I would presume to know Cadel Evans well enough - or at all - to imagine what he'd think. But I don't believe he'd be so self-opinionated as to back the vitriol that's been poured on Mia Freedman just because she's not prepared to label sportspeople as "heroes". Frankly, it's all about perspective. Athletes, sports personalities, whatever - they may be good, or even great at what they do, they may even inspire you in some way. And that's fantastic. In that way they can be seen as a personal hero - but as a national hero? Well, it's a stretch. Whilst I accept that sportspeople are prominent in Australia's recognised or 'popular' cultural pantheon, if you like, that may have a lot to do with our short history as colonisers here and our lack of knowledge - or recognition - of what came before the British invasion. In time we may well achieve more balance and recognition for others from a wider, more varied selection of fields.

Hopefully from here on we can embrace all achievements in any field and not over-emphasise sport - or Ned Kelly for that matter - over all else. Public holiday for winning Le Tour? I don't think so. However I think there's room here for celebrating Cadel's achievement and recognising that - as he himself has said - he's just a guy riding a bike. 

Cadel Evans - is he a hero? Mamamia
I think pursuing a life doing something you’re good at for the benefit of yourself is not heroic. It’s not a BAD thing, I’m not dissing Cadel (of course not!) but the idea that a sports person should be idolised because they can ride far or jump high or swim fast is, to me, a bit odd. I guess I’m just flagging the fact that if you do well in sport, the country and the media stop to worship you in a way that doesn’t happen to anyone else for doing anything else.

The abuse I received was instant and it continues, seemingly unabated. I have a pretty thick skin but by 8:15 I was in tears. I genuinely miscalculated the level of viciousness my comments (which I have made many times before) would provoke. My bad. Not for stating my opinion but perhaps for misreading the mood and the audience.

Many people have made the point that it’s great to have role models for kids to look up to, to encourage them to get on a bike or kick a ball. I agree absolutely. They’re certainly better role models than rappers or reality TV stars.

But I only wish other kinds of heroes would receive the same media and popular adulation, that kids could see that you could be wildly popular for helping others or doing something other than having a physical skill.