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I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of sledger

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of sledger

By Anonymous Contributor

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of sledger. ‘It’s not a game, it’s a shame’ has been coming from my mouth quite regularly these past few days. It’s easy to sledge when you’re winning and aren’t we just! It’s a gold rush and it’s all the Aussie way.  And it brings out the worst in me. I can’t help it. It’s my competitive nature coming out. But last night, as my 6-year-old did the ‘Dab’ that Usain Bolt is so famous for and chanted my words, I thought ‘perhaps it’s time to reign it in a bit’.

 

It’s not a sportsmanlike thing to do and we banished some of our great sports people because of it. But it’s easy to get carried away, to say something in the heat of the moment. You may not really mean it, but adrenalin kicks in and it’s out of your mouth before you even realise.  Although my sledging has been done only in the privacy of my own home, with the audience consisting of mainly sub 6-year-olds I have still been a party to it. Which has made me think more seriously about our cricketers and other sportspeople and what we have held them accountable for. For the record, I don’t agree with sledging in any way on a sports field especially an international one, but I can see how it could happen. On a cricket field, a tennis court, on a rugby field, our sports people are under enormous pressure. In the heat of the moment, through frustration, anger, a vent (and who doesn’t have those) they say things that normally they would not. That in any other given situation, the words just wouldn’t leave their mouths. But on a sports field, especially a professional one, the situation isn’t normal. The stakes are high, almost too high in some cases. Selections, money, sponsorship deals, popularity, public expectation are often all dependant upon a win-lose outcome. It’s a pressure cooker at the extreme.

 

I played competitive tennis as a youngster and during one game when I was about 12 years old I said something really nasty about my opponent or rather her skill level, under my breath but loud enough for her family to hear. I won the match but felt bad for weeks to come. An apology afterwards to her and her family did little to cut it. Some 21 years later, I still remember that match and more significantly my bad behaviour. I took my bad play out on my opponent and she didn’t deserve it. I made a mistake and I said something which was totally out of character, but I was under pressure and I cracked. It was poor form on my behalf. But if I cracked as a youngster playing in a match which was pretty much meaningless, so too, can we all.

 

Where do we go from here? In a culture that sports are so competitively driven, how have you taught your kids to show good sportsmanship? Is there a place for tactics like sledging to gain an advantage in the sporting world? Is this unacceptable on and off on the field or is overly competitive banter to your TV in the privacy of your own home a whole different ball game? Tell us your thoughts in a comment below!

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