My mind had moved initially towards discussing integrity in sports. That was partly prompted by bubbling speculation about ‘match fixing’ in professional tennis. Gambling on results is almost as old as competition, so it’s no wonder that as technology has changed and real-time results start to flood the airwaves, the many things on which one can wager increased, and the money to be made on them also increased. Who will serve the first double fault is a reasonable wager, and it’s an easy thing to set up; not as complicated as rigging a whole match. That’s a feature of many aspects of life, as is the fact that it’s really only those at the very top who can rely on the big contracts and easy life of prize money and endorsements. Those–the majority–who labour at their love and try to make a living have to find money where they can. “Psst! Got a proposition for you…” seems not too hard, and the traceability of such deals can be really hard.

But, my mind was also on the wider issue of conduct of professional athletes. Many are thrust into positions for which few are well trained and maybe not well-suited. I have a side eye on Chris Gayle’s latest barrage of word, not really because of him specifically but what he may represent. We–the paying public, and they–the deep-pocketed sponsors, have created some terrible creatures who are living a life that is so unreal as to be unreal. The ability to hit a leather ball with a block of wood with prodigious force is not the stuff of magic. But, we and they like entertainment, and we’ve shown over many centuries that we are prepared to pay highly for such diversions. Who would pay a lot of money to see a man plaster a wall in record time? Maybe, that will be a ‘sport’ in the future. It’s not that plastering is not especially skillful–it is, as you’d know when your plaster keeps falling of the wall or dropping from the ceiling. It’s just that we’ve not decided to make it competitive and market it.

There’s nothing intrinsically wonderful about being able to roll a ball at speed with your feet, or throw it accurately to another person running at speed for them to catch, or to swim fast or long distances. They are challenges, which we humans take on and try to outdo each other. We know people pit animals against each other, as racers, or fighters. I’d put my Shitzu puppy up for running after golf balls, or being able to jump twice his height at the click of a finger. 

Check my skills on the greens

 If we were to say that the average athlete is no more than a circus animal, many would get upset. But, what is the real difference?

circus-tiger-fire

What’s the real difference between the circus animal and the professional athlete?

But, the fact that big bucks go into the pockets of the athletes transforms them and transforms those around them.

Let’s be generous and say that some move onto a new and higher standard of living, way beyond that of average workers. they then hold out a dream for others to follow. I’m sure tigers are not sitting in the jungle purring and wondering when they will get their big break in the Big Top. We, higher-thinking beings, though, are mulling such thoughts.

Having reached that new financial height, the pro athlete often forgets that he is just a mere human. We see the extremes of behaviour and disregard for the mores of the rest of the world as indicative of how far they have come from the simple origin of child with talent, who kept improving it, till someone paid lots of money to see it on display.

That many forget those simple facts allows them to behave as if we owe them something. You don’t have to be a wizard to realize that if you do something that many people dislike, chances are you should think about not doing it again. If you do it in the public gaze, chance are that more people will find it and express their views. And so on.

I thought it odd that two female politicians took issue with men commenting about how they were dress (our MP Lisa Hanna and UK minister Theresa May) and both sent back verbal salvos to say “That’s not right!”

Back to ‘Chris’ (a metaphor, not necessarily the man, specifically). Imagine that he were on the studio set of a live profile interview with the very famous TV journalist, Katie Couric (who, happens to be a multimillionaire with net worth far in excess of even many well-paid athletes). Imagine that he decided to ignore Katie’s question about his life, and start to comment about her eyes and suggest they have a drink afterwards…

Part of the discussion revolves around how each party sees the other. If ‘Mel’ had been or ‘greater’ standing, would that have mattered? Would she have been taken more seriously when trying to do her job? It’s a point to consider.

There are many layers to relationships and whether due respect is given. On the sports field, it’s often easier to see who ‘earns’ or ‘deserves’ it (the faster, stronger, more skillful, etc.). If you’ve been used to being in that category, do you assume it’s your rightful place in all circumstances?

I’m sure there’s a gambling syndicate who is pondering wagers on what a famous athlete will say next and where? Who knows, maybe it was all part of nicely arranged bet. #Justsaying…

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