Jokes are already doing the rounds on social media poking fun at the evidently common sense challenged NRL player Todd Carney. Sadly I now know what ‘bubbling’ is. According to the Sydney Morning Herald it’s pretty big in Australia. Who knew?
Last week, Luis Suarez bit an Italian player during a world cup match, resulting in a ban for 9 international matches and 4-month ban from all football. The Uruguay captain apparently called the sentence a breach of his human rights. It is not his first time biting on the pitch…
Suarez returned home to a hero’s welcome and used twitter to thank his fans for their support.
What standards should we expect from our sporting heroes? Is it just a case of them going out, playing their best, getting the goods for their clubs or countries? Should it matter what their behaviour is like as long as they play to the best of their ability?
I recall introducing my English husband to Australian Rules Football. It was a pretty boring match between Port Power and Freemantle (it was such terrible footy, the Port members demanded their entry fees back after the match). My husband was spellbound. He enjoys sport and loves Aussie Rules but couldn’t fathom what my uncle referred to as a ‘bit of biffo’ taking place without anyone paying much attention. I must admit I wasn’t worried by it. To me, it was a couple of guys on the pitch having a bit of a disagreement, pushing each other around a bit and then getting on with the game.
But I do have to wonder where the line should be. Do I want my kids thinking it’s OK to behave like that? That it’s OK to have a bit of pushing and fisticuffs when things don’t go your way? That it’s acceptable to bite someone when you’re frustrated? That ‘bubbling’ is a fun game that makes you look cool?
These players are good at what they do. They have trained hard and focused on mastering their talent. These are traits we should shine a light on. Work hard, train hard and become the best you can be is certainly a message I want my kids to hear.
In my mind, the Suarez incident is clear-cut. It took place on the pitch, during an International match. At a minimum, he should not be able to play for his country again. Ever.
For Carney, it is harder. I wonder where the line is between public and private. From the photo we can only assume that he knew there was a camera pointing at him and, as a public figure, aware of the likelihood of that being shared. Does that make him a bad role model as a football player? Possibly not. It makes him a dumb-a** and an unsavory player for a club, but as he wasn’t on the pitch, how much of a right do we have to call on his career to end?
If he was bubbling mid game then yes, it should be lights out on his rugby future.