We’ve learned a lot in this period of pause; Novak Djokovic is an anti-vaxxer, Nathan Cleary is a terrible dancer and if you ever need anything done in this country, get Peter V’landys to do it. I still don’t know if V’landys is a hero or a villain. Perhaps he doesn’t even know himself. It is the mark of most great leaders that they wrestle with this conundrum, is it not? What he undoubtedly is, is a ruthless negotiator, a shrewd business man, and the perfect blueprint for a real-life Simpsons character.
With no actual sport to distract us, it was grim watching the machinations at play. Money doesn’t just talk in the world of sport in 2020, it screams loud, hateful profanities at any who dare question it. It is clear players have become little more than products in the eyes of the head honchos and, even more disturbingly (because I expect it from the honchos), a lot of fans too.
Anyone calling athletes “sooks” and the like, for not being one hundred per cent keen to sign their lives away, and be quarantined from their families for an unresolved time period and figure of payment, is the worst type of idiot. In fact, adults who even use the term “sook” to describe another person are degenerate bullies and no doubt A Grade whingers themselves when things don’t go their way.
In a wild moment of desperate idealistic madness, I had hoped COVID-19 might spark a bright new age of community in the world of sport. It didn’t. Endless “we’re all in this together” advertisements, featuring celebrities who practise social distancing from the rest of us even in the best of times, couldn’t stop Nick Politis from trying to rort the system or Kane Cornes from being Kane Cornes.
But there is a fine community hiding in plain sight. The local sporting community. It will probably be a while before we can attend any big games, so the next few months shape up as the ideal time to “stay in your village” and discover your local team. Head down to your nearest oval and cheer on some people you might actually know. Admission is usually free, the beers are cheap, and if the scent of the sausage sizzle doesn’t float you through the gates by your nose, like a Warner Brothers cartoon character, I happen to know Waverley Oval do a particularly wonderful chicken sandwich.