When I played schoolyard cricket my mates would use watches to blind me with sun, scrape half the ball raw on the gravel and yell, “Swiiiiiing!” a split second before I hit the ball.
Admittedly: they weren’t professionals. But when I got out, I didn’t blame the epileptic sun-spots in my vision, the feet that tried to trip me, or the (accurate) unsporting remarks about my co-ordination skills; I acknowledged that even if a ball has been spit-polished within an inch of its life, it takes skill to bowl it well.
Does that make cheating ok though? Well, no; but just because something is inexcusable doesn’t mean it can’t have positive effects. Take Australia’s latest sporting fiasco. Never have we cared so much about yellow tape.
In fact, despite a host of geopolitical and moral issues being discussed on last night’s Q&A, yellow-tape-gate took precedence in The Sydney Morning Herald’s review, ‘It’s just not cricket’: Rock star philosopher weighs in on scandal on Q&A.
Yes, it was wrong: but that doesn’t mean something good can’t come of it. For instance, from now on, every-time a sportsman even thinks about scratching his balls, there will be 360 degree media coverage.
Also, perhaps more importantly, we can now get over this weird obsession with labelling certain professions trustworthy or not. We’ve never trusted politicians, and lawyers and salespeople tend to get a bad rap, but sportspeople seem to have always been revered.
I’m not saying we that now we shouldn’t trust our athletes; just that we shouldn’t judge people based on their profession. It sounds pretty bloody obvious, but needs to be said. And contrary to what righteous broadsheet columnists will have you believe, cricket’s rich poetic heart will be just fine.
A few guys broke the rules, will be punished accordingly, and kids all around the country will keep heckling each other in the playground—and might even realise that morality doesn’t depend on your job title.
And with the never ending doping scandals that seem to break every year (see: Icarus, an undercover investigation into Russia’s state-sanctioned Olympic doping program), should it really be considered a scandal? Or is it just an inevitable consequence that we are going to have to accept, as sport evolves?