It's illuminating to watch the outrage that surrounds Nick D'Arcy and the glee exhibited by almost everyone when his Olympic campaign ended so unceremoniously after 12 hours.
Why should we be happy about his? Nick D'Arcy failing in the pool equals one less medal for the Australian tally. Sure, he's seen as a bit of a douche and there were those pesky criminal charges but overall, it's because he doesn't meet the requirements of 'Australian Sporting Hero'.
It's an age-old love affair Australians have with their sporting 'idols'. So much so, we expect them to be more than just proficient at their chosen sport, we expect them to be gods – to please five-year olds and grannies alike. Someone took Olympia too seriously.
But we're just asking to be fooled. Take D'Arcy for example. He's a 25-year old bloke who may be lacking smarts in the upstairs compartment but he can swim better than most. And that's all that should be expected of him. NRL players are another favourite punching bag of the media, getting into drunken brawls and fighting off group-sex claims.
Yes, I can hear the chorus of protest – 'But they're role models and kids look up to them!'. They're only role models because we deem them so, and brands are quick to leverage the popularity of certain personalities to sell their wares, perpetuating the cycle.
But it's all a falsehood wherein we set ourselves up to be disappointed. Just because someone can run down a field really fast and plonk a ball down in the right spot doesn't mean they'll be brilliant in front of a microphone and a camera, not to mention their off-field exploits.
If Tiger Woods can't control his libido, that's his and his family's business. We don't have the right to be upset, he didn't cheat on us. Whether he's still performing on the course is what we should be invested in. And if his sponsors got their panties in a twist, brands should think twice about sinking so much money into mere humans with foibles.
Sports people and their sometimes volatile personalities don't belong to the public, and they don't belong to brands. But if we continue to expect them to be guided by our 'moral compass', then commiserations to us all.
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