Sport used to be the domain of role models. As parents we could take our pick because on fields, tracks and courts everywhere you would find the kind of individual you wanted your child to look up to. Someone who worked hard for their position, whose dedication and determination got them where they are. Someone whose character was one of substance. Someone who respected their sport and wanted the world to see it. But it seems the age of the sports star role model is dead.
I always planned on encouraging my kids to follow sport. I was a keen tennis player and as a young person I got a huge amount out of immersing myself into the culture. When times were tough I knew that sport was there. It was a healthy distraction from the everyday; something that was mine. I could work towards being better, I could feel success and experience defeat. It was an outlet that provided only good things.
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I would idolise the players of the day. Those who earned their place and did their country proud. The whole nation was behind them when they competed because as an individual they encompassed everything that we wanted the world to see about our country.
They accepted that their place at the top came with responsibilities and knew that children looked up to them. They conducted themselves in a manner which was professional. And that exactly is what is missing from those keeping the top spots warm today.
So who exactly do the kids have today?
Well tennis has given us Nick Kyrios and Bernard Tomic; two ‘gentlemen’ who’ve spent more time in media for their outlandish, cocky behaviour than they have for any actual tennis ability. Run ins with the law, arrogance beyond belief and downright bad sportsmanship. This is not something the country is proud of, in fact seeing these men represent Australia makes me cringe. They are not national icons in my eyes but embarrassments.