The volume of letters bemoaning the sickening jingoism of the games commentary is heartening. But we’d best save our typographic energy if we expect to make any difference. The unflattering likelihood is that the commentators, as mere servants of their ratings-obsessed media bosses, are simply dishing out what most Aussie sports viewers want.
The insane imbalance in the medal tally simply reflects the immoral extravagance of governments left and right over the past 30-years, when untold billions of taxpayer dollars have been funnelled into developing elite sportsmen and women. Big business sponsorship adds to the equation, with many sports stars receiving salaries most Australians could barely dream of.
But the blame for this mania lies with neither governments nor business investors. It’s a rising dysfunctionality in our national psyche. Sporting achievement and dominance have become a major source of our collective national sense of worth. It’s evidenced, for instance, in tantrums when the Aussies lose the ashes or someone’s goal is disallowed in the under-12s.
The Commonwealth Games are simply the pinnacle of this syndrome. With no Americans, Russians or Chinese to edge us out, we really are the kings of the sandpit. It’s not the media; it’s us.