sports

A year on from the ball tampering scandal, we can finally be proud of Australian sport.

Seeing the ecstatic smile of Ash Barty as she clutched her French Open trophy close after her phenomenal victory at Roland Garros at the weekend, I felt myself feeling all warm and fuzzy. Not just for her, but for Australian sport.

Finally.

Finally we can feel proud of Australian sport again.

This is the kind of champion our kids should blu tack above their beds.

This is the kind of sportsmanship, respect, and humility we should be celebrating.

This, in 2019, is exactly what we needed to drown out the idiocy that has been our sporting embarrassments over the past 12 months.

Right now, Barty, Dylan Alcott and Adam Goodes are the heroes we’re celebrating – the names we’re reading in the sports pages, that also happen to represent diversity, inclusivity, gender equality and the kind of behaviour we want to cheer on, not hide behind our hands from.

It’s a far cry from where we were this time last year, watching our national cricket team apologise for cheating during the ball tampering scandal. 

Or holding our breath for another rape, sexual assault or domestic violence allegation to hit the headlines involving one of our NRL players.

The Quicky did a whole episode on the sex sharing culture in Australian men’s sport. Post continues after podcast.

In 2018, the allegations were so bad and so constant – the National Rugby League had to introduce a “no fault stand down” policy which they enacted on State of Origin player Jack De Belin, after he was charged with rape.

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Even CEO Todd Greenberg called it a “complete train wreck” of a pre-season, as reported by the ABC.

Ben Barba was sacked from the Cowboys over allegations of domestic violence.

Bulldog Dylan Napa was embroiled in a sex tape scandal.

The entire Cronulla Sharks team was banned from a local sailing club for an alleged incident of bad behaviour.

The Bulldogs were hit with a $250,000 fine after two players were drunk, dancing and naked in public.

Eels player Jarryd Hayne was charged with aggravated sexual assault.

And these were just a handful of the incidents in one code, in one year.

To put it into perspective since the beginning of 2015, the Australian media has reported on 66 separate allegations of rugby league players behaving badly, reports News Corp.

But it’s not just the NRL, let’s look at tennis.

Do we need to go into the unruly dummy spitting behaviour of Nick Kyrgios?

How about Bernard Tomic’s behaviour rap sheet?

How about rugby union?

Just recently, Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for a homophobic social media post.

Israel-Folau
Israel Folau has been banned for homophobic comments on social media. Image: Getty.

Venture into the world of boxing, and Anthony Mundine is being condemned for spewing anti-gay rhetoric.

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Even in basketball, s*** hit the fan.

In July the Australian team was involved in a brawl with the Filipino team during the World Cup qualifying game.

The list goes on, and depressingly on.

But right now in this moment in time  - the media spotlight is on four incredible examples of Australian sport.

ash barty french open 2019
Ash Barty is the kind of sporting hero we can be proud of. Image: Getty.

Ash Barty, Australia's number one tennis player. Exemplary in not just her craft, but her attitude after winning the French Open.

Adam Goodes, a Sydney AFL superstar who has finally been offered an apology for the racism unjustly levelled against him in the final years of his career. Controversial yes, because it came four years too late, but good news regardless.

The Matildas, who despite losing to Italy in their Women's World Cup opener, have always been and continue to be an absolute force in the world of soccer, showing how to gracefully accept defeat and use it as fuel for success.

And Dylan Alcott, who at the weekend clinched his first ever Roland Garros quad wheelchair title in the French Open.

Opening up the sports pages this week shows us what Australian sport is supposed to be about.

Incredible skill, equality, diversity and impeccable sportsmanship - minus the scandal.

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