Timing is everything. On Monday, mine was lousy when Cadel Evans won the Tour de France and I unwittingly became the public enemy of anyone who’d ever ridden a bike.
I didn’t wake up with the intention of offending half of Australia. But by 8am, that’s what I’d done after appearing on The Today Show in my regular What’s Making News segment where Karl Stefanovic asked me to share his intense jubilation over Cadel’s victory.
I replied I was happy for Cadel but ambivalent about the over-the top adulation we lavish on sports stars and the way we’re so quick to laud them as heroes.
Have I mentioned bad timing? Bad. Timing. My first inkling that I was swimming against an almighty tide of patriotic sentiment was when the floor crew – many of whom I’ve known for years – jeered me loudly.
Gamely and somewhat clumsily, I persevered, trying to explain how I wished we afforded the same praise and glory to those doing amazing things in other, non-sporting fields. Karl got huffy at this point, calling me ignorant, demanding I read Cadel’s biography and pretty much accusing me of blowing my nose into the Australian flag.
I huffed back, insisting there were hundreds of unsung Australian ‘heroes’ whose names we’d never know because sport sucked up so much media oxygen. Names like those two female surgeons who successfully separated Siamese twins Trishna and Krishna in Melbourne.
Who were they again?