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Do our sporting heroes need to be role models off the pitch?

By 2 July 2014 13

water-bubbler

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.

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13 Responses to Do our sporting heroes need to be role models off the pitch?
#1
Rollersk8r9:43 am, 02 Jul 14

You’ve got to be joking. When you are paid millions of dollars to play a game – and third parties are paying you extra to wear and promote their products – you are representing the club and sponsors at all times. This point is absolutely drilled into players these days – and would have gone triple for Carney. Ok, it’s not the worst thing he’s done – but do you think you’d still have a job if that was you? He’s had more final chances than any normal person would get.

#2
curmudgery10:38 am, 02 Jul 14

What is it about this game that turns the brains of so many of its players and followers into so much porridge?

Mr Carney and his apologists might benefit from protracted psychological help.

#3
dungfungus11:20 am, 02 Jul 14

The referee didn’t react at all to Saurez’s “love bite”. The media beat it up so much FIFA had to follow through.
It’s all part of the theatre that helps make world soccer marginally entertaining and ensures it will never be the “main game” in Australia.
There is a huge double standard as a result because when a player deliberately trips an opposing player and gives him a career ending broken leg the worst “punishment” the aggressor gets is a red card.
The player the was bitten by Saurez was a serial penalty seeker. All he got was a couple of tiny bruises.

#4
VYBerlinaV8_is_back11:22 am, 02 Jul 14

Do our sporting heroes need to be role models off the pitch.

Yes they do. Without a doubt.

#5
Grimm11:32 am, 02 Jul 14

I’m no apologist for these people or their behavior, but if you are using some guy in his 20s who is being paid a ton of money as a role model for your kids, you need your head examined. While their behavior is pretty revolting in general, it’s not entirely unexpected from young guys with too much money and everybodies attention.

#6
astrojax12:04 pm, 02 Jul 14

curmudgery said :

What is it about this game that turns the brains of so many of its players and followers into so much porridge?

for a start, something like this?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUSDd1xYY8A

#7
VYBerlinaV8_is_back12:05 pm, 02 Jul 14

Grimm said :

I’m no apologist for these people or their behavior, but if you are using some guy in his 20s who is being paid a ton of money as a role model for your kids, you need your head examined. While their behavior is pretty revolting in general, it’s not entirely unexpected from young guys with too much money and everybodies attention.

Parents don’t choose these people as role models…

#8
Holden Caulfield12:49 pm, 02 Jul 14

Grimm said :

I’m no apologist for these people or their behavior, but if you are using some guy in his 20s who is being paid a ton of money as a role model for your kids, you need your head examined. While their behavior is pretty revolting in general, it’s not entirely unexpected from young guys with too much money and everybodies attention.

In a perfect world kids wouldn’t use sporting idols or, worse, the Kardashians, as role models. Sadly the boat of celebrity culture exerting undue influence on people has well and truly sailed.

On the basis of the money being earned and that players are, as noted, representing their pay masters and sponsors whenever they are in public, then, yes I think it is a fair price for the public to expect these sportspeople to adhere to greater standards.

It can be done, most professional sportspeople are very good. But there always seems to be a few bad eggs stuffing it up for everyone.

#9
watto234:15 pm, 02 Jul 14

Its not even a case of double standards. If I was say wearing the company polo and a photo of me bubbling went viral on the internet I’d lose my job. The problem is the more famous you are the easier it is to get caught out. When these guys get paid so much money I don’t have any sympathy for them.

They have a choice, they can get a real job with less pay and join the rest of us. In fact i think thats part of the issue, the kids get paid too much money too soon. Why not have a maximum pay based on age and then anything extra goes into a trust account held by the NRL until later on, kind of like superannuation for young footballers. Yeah its not fair for those who toe the line but they’ll all be better off in the long run.

#10
bikhet5:53 pm, 02 Jul 14

If they’re being paid and/or sponsored by private companies or individuals then I don’t much care. It’s between them and their paymasters. If they’re being paid or sponsored with public money then yes, definitely. Then again, I don’t see why public money should be used to sponsor professional sports in the first place.

#11
gazket11:49 pm, 02 Jul 14

Rugby League is turning into Pansy League. We like larikins in our game it’s the Australian way.

I’m sick and tired of lefties who don’t watch the game and only whinge about whats reported on the news when they see it or whats spread by frightbats on blogs or bitter Raiders fans on twitter.

#12
curmudgery10:14 am, 03 Jul 14

Oh, and they’re not ‘heroes’ either – none of them – not by any measure.

#13
Ghettosmurf8712:21 pm, 03 Jul 14

gazket said :

Rugby League is turning into Pansy League. We like larikins in our game it’s the Australian way.

I’m sick and tired of lefties who don’t watch the game and only whinge about whats reported on the news when they see it or whats spread by frightbats on blogs or bitter Raiders fans on twitter.

Todd Carney on the drink is not a “larrikin”. Todd Carney on the drink is a self-absorbed douchebag, who thinks he can get away with anything he so chooses, because he happens to play football well. I’ve met Todd sober and while pissed and the two versions are poles apart. However, lets not excuse his poor behaviour off the field, just because he is good on the field.

As far as the seriousness of this incident. It’s not a big deal, if it were only an isolated incident. But unfortunately for Todd, he has prior form. And lots of it. Constant misdemeanours at Canberra cost him his job. Then he was out of the game for a year, got off the drink, stayed off the drink at the Roosters which resulted in a spectacular season, before getting back on the drunk horse which resulted in another fall from grace. By all accounts he was on his last chance when he went to Cronulla, who also gave him a number of warnings for various misdemeanours. The “bubbler” was just the straw that broke the camels back.

Think of it as a usual workplace. If you miss a day of work because you’re hungover, the boss is none to impressed, but will have a chat to you, tell you it’s not on and think the clip on the ears will do the job. You do it again next month, the boss gets more serious, maybe you get a formal warning and are told you’re skating on thin ice. And then, inexplicably, you do it again the week after. There are consequences for that. Todd has gotten to that final sackable point three times now. Let’s not feel sorry for him

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