Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:32 | SYDNEY
Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:32 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Sport and national character


Sam Roggeveen


23 December 2008 08:22

OK, so we're moving away from international policy a bit with this one, but it's too good not to share. Richard Green responds to Graeme Dobell's post about the sporting national interest: 

As much as I am wary of discussions of national character, there's another aspect of cricket that I think relates to Australian character. This is the fretting that comes from unfavourable comparison with the unattainable.

There is a permanent dialogue about the fall of sportsmanship in cricket, the end of walking, players celebrating excessively etc. and an endless stream of scorn on players who are not saints. It never seems to be mentioned that no other sport would have an expectation that a player should disagree with the officials when he is favoured by them. What other sport would even conceive that the officials are a contigency plan against the team's disagreement rather than the default decider?

Likewise, following the generation after white settlement, Australia has consistently had among the highest standards of living and consistently been preoccupied with the weakness thereof, along with any other metric of national quality.

Who cares that the revealed preference of the world, expressed through net migration (people vote with their feet, after all) is overwhelmingly positive, nor that we have replaced Fair Verona as a literary fantasyland. Our kids aren't learning! Our buildings are ugly! No one likes our films! We didn't invent the computer! Our workers work less hours than the Koreans, are shorter than the Dutch, have fewer football skills than the Brazillians, do maths worse than the Chinese, make crappier cars than the Germans!

The deep insecurity about being less than perfect may be the greatest strength of both sport and country.