The Australian media has been quick to condemn Commonwealth Games athletes Hassene Fkiri and Shane Perkins for their televised displays of sporting petulance. They apparently let us all down, giving people the impression that Australians are actually bad losers.
C’mon! Why pick on these athletes, when they are simply upholding a great Aussie tradition?
Indeed, the evidence shows that we’re actually a bunch of world-class, Gold Medal-winning tantrum throwers, who love nothing more than gobbing off and flipping the bird – to officials, fellow competitors and even our team-mates.
The exploits of Perkins and Fkiri need to seen in the context of Australian sporting and cultural history.* Their behaviour is rooted in the historical construct of the Aussie ‘larrikin’, a character who enjoys nothing more than poking fun at authority, and who has been at the heart of the Australian national identity since the 19th century.
In fact, dismayed school teacher James F Hogan identified three common characteristics that imbued a generation of Australian children coming through his classes way back in 1880. They were:
- • An inordinate love of field sports;
- • A very decided disinclination to recognise the authority of parents and supervisors; and
- • A grievous dislike of mental effort.
That’s why I like to think of our Commonwealth Games athletes as Hogan’s Heroes. They have lived up to James F Hogan’s prophecy, and further established ‘larrikinism’ as the true Australian Way. For that, I ‘dips me lid’ to our great athletes and their disdain for media-contrived conventions of fair play.
Of course, Australians have, for some time, punched well above their weight in any compilation of great dummy-spits in world sports. Such as this one:
Unspun’s Favourite Sporting Dummy Spits of All Time
10 ‘Fabulous’ Phil Carmen Headbutts Umpire
Phil Carmen was definitely a ‘larrikin’. The gifted footballer thrilled and dismayed fans at both Collingwood and Essendon. The most notorious moment of his tumultuous career, however, was headbutting umpire Graham Carbery – for which he was suspended for 20 weeks.
9 John Daley Smashes Fan’s Camera at Aussie Open
Rule Number One of watching pro golf – don’t mess with Big John Daley. One spectator learnt that lesson the hard way at the Australian Open in 2008, when he decided to snap a photo of the Big Guy just as his game was unravelling on the back nine. The unfortunate spectator escaped with his life, but the camera finished in pieces.
8 Aurelio Slams ‘Pissant Town’ Adelaide
Post-match media conferences are dangerous things, especially when you’ve just lost four-nil at the end of a tough week. Former Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar flipped out, giving a huge spray to everyone he could think of – but still managed to do it without actually naming anyone.
7 Jeff Tarango – ‘You’re the Most Corrupt Official in the Game’
Oh shut up. That umpire was the most corrupt official in the game. Jeff was just sticking up for himself against those horrible Wimbledon tennis fans who were heckling him.
6 Dessy Hasler Rips Change Room Door Off its Hinges
There’s an old footy story about the coach who loosened the hinges on the change room door before a big match, so that he could inspire his team by running through it at the end of his pre-game spiel. Manly coach Des Hassler didn’t need such trickery, however, when he went bananas after a poor performance by the Sea Eagles.
5 French World Cup Meltdown
The French love a good strike, and the French Football Team (or ‘Les Bleus’) showed just how much fun a group can tantrum can be when they refused to train en masse during this year’s World Cup. A global TV audience lapped up vision of the group dummy spit, including Patrice Evra’s training ground argument with the team fitness coach.
4 Mad Dog Muir
Robbie ‘Mad Dog’ Muir was a walking talking headline for most of his 68-game career with St Kilda – during which he was reported 13 times. Arguably his best dummy spit was against Carlton, when he went completely berserk.
3 Eric Cantona Drop-Kicks a Spectator
I don’t know how sports stars put up with all the heckling from idiots in the grand stands. Neither does Eric Cantona. After getting sent off in match against Crystal Palace, Eric let his boots do the talking.
2 Serena Threatens to Kill Lineswoman on Match Point of US Open Final
Tennis is a sport that lends itself to tantrum throwing, and the professional game has produced some of the greatest exponents of the art – think McEnroe, Connors, and our own heroes Cash and Hewitt. The greatest ever tennis tantrum, however, goes to Serena Williams – who was bundled out of the US Open final after threatening to kill a lineswoman – by shoving a f***ing tennis ball down her f***ing throat. It says something about tennis that Ms Williams was not even suspended for threatening to murder an official.
1 Dennis Lillee Throws the Aluminium Bat
Once upon a time, someone thought it might be a good idea to make a cricket bat out of aluminium. Then they convinced Dennis Lillee to use it in a match. As it turned out, aluminium cricket bats aren’t very well suited to the job of hitting cricket balls, but they provided cricket enthusiasts with one of the greatest moments in Test Match history – Dennis hurling the infamous aluminium bat towards the boundary and sulking like a baby when the umpires told him to use one made of wood.
*Through their performances in Delhi, Perkins and Fkiri have without doubt secured their future careers as guest ‘hosts’ for sporting tours all around world. Very soon, you too will be able to drink beer ‘till it flows out your ears, scream Oi! Oi! Oi! at passing foreigners, and hang out in Irish theme bars with Shane and Hassene during various rugby/cricket/snorkeling world cup events. All for a very reasonable fee.
– Stew Prins
Read Essential's ongoing research on the public response to Covid-19.
In this week's report:
- Performance of Scott Morrison
- Performance of Anthony Albanese
- Preferred Prime Minister
- Views towards re-electing the federal Coalition government
- Party trust to handle issues
- Importance of Australia’s international reputation
- Scott Morrison’s impact on Australia’s international reputation
- Views towards Australia’s international reputation