Being Austrailian can be a little embarrassing sometimes

When I was a kid it used to be un-Australian to be patriotic.  In fact the only time we felt patriotic was on the sports ground. 

And we weren’t just patriotic to Australia, we were patrioticly supporting The Dalkeith Nedlands under-12’s, the school cricket team, South Fremantle in Footy, Western Australia, Australia or who ever the most local team was at the time.  And then at the end of the game we forgot about it all and went off for an ice-cream or beer (beer when you are young and ice cream as you get older obviously).

We also new that Aussie’s loved their sport and that we spent a lot of money on it – and that seemed like a good idea.

But we spend a huge amount on elite sport now and yet a lot of schools don’t have adequate play grounds. 

I guess that is fine if we see winning at international events as something of national importance. 

But maybe we could be spending our money on integrating local sports into having fun, learning to socialise and learning some values.  Local sports and school sports do this.  In fact I recently saw a video of my neice playing sport and learning the very important social lesson that “If you look to your father for support when you stumble on the field, he will probably be laughing too much to be a source of useful advice”.

But what useful lessons and National benefits do we get from elite sport?

I have extensively researched (ie stumble on) some recent news reports.

The papers in India recently accused the Australians at the Commonwealth games of vandalising their accomodation because India beat Australia in the cricket.

Fortunately the Australian high commission stepped in to correct this mis-perception of how Australians behave:

The report “was factually wrong, insulting to Australia’s athletes and can only be described as a fantasy,” the high commission said in a statement.

He did however admit that a washing machine had been “damaged” (whih meant thrown out the window apparently).  And he admitted that “spirited” celebrations following the Commonwealth Games had resulted in damage to the athlete’s accomodation as a result of celbrating our medals and achievements at the games. He also admitted that we would pick up the bill to clean up.

So I guess our governments formal view is that 

It is insulting to suggest that Australians riot and vandalise because we are losers.  We do it because we are winners.

If my neice and her athletics team had done something similar I think our familly would have apologised and made the kids stay back to clean up.  But the excellent thing abut being an elite sportsperson is that you have other (tax payer funded) people to do that for you while you get on with the important work of winning games to enhance our international reputation.

And apparently its working.  I was told yesterday that Australians had been identified in a recent Brittish survey as the “blondes of the world”.  I should apologise to blondes, many of whom are bright, but it was interesting to find out that Australians as a nation are seen as “fun, energetic but not too bright”.

On the same day, I saw an article in a newspaper that we are reviewing our school curriculums (Just in case … Curriculum = the stuff what the teachers are meant to tell you at school).  Apparently the new maths and science is too hard so they want to simplify (simplify = dumb down a bit) what is included.

One of my teachers once told me that there were no bad students, only bad teachers and that if I didn’t understand something then I should expect more of him.  But more senior education experts have decided that it might be better to lower our expectations of students than to raise our expectation of teachers (or to better equip them to teach).

I was a member of the science fiction club and a middle of the road sportsman so it may be that I am un Australian in my thinking but, I can’t help feeling that aiming to win medals is possibly less in our national interest than expending resources on local communities and basic education (in sport of course but also maybe in some science and stuff for the less athletic).

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About James King

I coach organisations in how to better make use of the untapped talent they have in their people and to explore new ways of understanding and solving new and old problems I live in Sydney with my wife and daughter and have no real hobbies beyond the usual boring ones of reading, writing and watching tv.
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