Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Raw Obscenity of Tom Waterhouse & Associated Social Decays

This stinking age we live in, Christ. A return to the age of the cave looks more and more appealing. This, and I’m not even depressed. Fun Fact: I’m too bone-tired to feel depressed over the summer months because I’m busy working like a goddamned Aesop grasshopper so as I can spend the autumn and early winter months idle and unhinged, fully immersed in neuroses, woe and NRL.

And still -  through this brutal summer landscape -  blasts a drugs in sports scandal. I was very shook up and wretched for the first week following the announcement, braced for turbulence, calling and haranguing my mother spluttering IT’S NOT JUST THE RANK ILLEGALITY THAT OFFENDS -  -  and then getting rolling and shouting overwrought things like THE CLUBS HAVE FAILED IN THEIR DUTY OF CARE THOSE FUCKERS HAVE FAILED THEIR LEAGUES THEIR PLAYERS THEIR FANS -  -  spouting vicious theories regarding lax administration, festering corruption and Machiavellian plotting and then rounding it all off with some rude references to Tom Waterhouse.  
Well, why not? Waterhouse’s high visibility and shit-licker visage make him an obvious poster-boy for the unease surrounding the morphing of sport into the entertainment industry and the unprecedented extent to which it has been seduced and subverted by gambling interests and oriental fish tattoos.
And then the Raiders were named. The Raiders?? The Raiders!! They of the hapless fadeouts and injuries in endemic proportions? Is there no decency at all remaining in this heinous fucking age? These are dark waters.
But three weeks later and the whole thing has become a tremulous melodrama with unsavory political associations and the consistency of your mother’s Christmas trifle. You know, wobbly.  And here, the murk descends.
Because Australian sport is about much more than sport.
For most of us, our first and most powerful response is emotional. My earliest memory of rugby league is my big brother crawling under his bed in the manner of a dying dog after Penrith beat Canberra in the grand final and not coming out for quite some time.
And because sport is essentially human drama. I suspected this deeply at the time of that grand final loss, and adult hindsight confirms the impression.
And now, twenty two years after that Raiders Panthers game, the totally unsurprising revelation that the brutal, pigs-at-the-trough commercialisation of sporting codes has correspondingly commercialised the market for performance enhancing drugs. Professionalism gives winning an obscenely greater value than merely competing. And a win at all costs culture cultivates fertile soil for corruption. All of this is a rank affront ; the shadow, the murk, the stupidity, the limping bullshit, the lies. We are all under our beds now.

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