I’ll take coiffed wankers over mustachioed macho men
Line a modern sportsman up next to the stars of decades past and you will struggle to believe that they even hail from the same species. The younger man is bigger, buffer, much prettier and way more sober.
This is a truly cataclysmic thing, if anyone over the age of thirty is to be believed. The wizened heads of this world seem to pine endlessly for the days of airborne booze fests and handlebar moustaches.
Well, those days are long gone, and they are never coming back. Nor should they. Today’s stars may be pampered, preened, excessively moisturised brats, but they have also raised the standards of sport to unprecedented levels.
Consider the Australian cricket team. Our current breed of willow warriors are much maligned for their supposedly effeminate ways. When people refer to the cricket highlights these days, they tend to be having a go at the streaks in Shane Watson’s hair.
Shane is hardly alone. Current captain Michael Clarke makes more appearances on the gossip pages than on the cricket pitch. His predecessor in the top job, Ricky Ponting, has become a walking advertisement for Swisse multivitamins, challenging the old doctrine that beer was nutrition enough.
Even Warnie has succumbed to the reality of the new age, losing his trademark gut, hooking up with a famous actress and becoming the major spokesman for a hair regrowth company.
All of these things are inevitable side-effects of sport’s professionalism. When our cricketers are essentially full time celebrities, they are going to start giving a damn about their receding hairlines and blotchy skin.
Granted, these blokes do not look nearly as tough as Dennis Lillee, Merv Hughes or Allan Border as they strut onto the field like proud peacocks. But there is still more than enough masculinity to go around, if you care to look a little deeper.
These guys are consummate professionals. They have better skills, bigger muscles and more cricketing smarts than any prior generation. Even Mike Hussey, the earnest nerd of modern cricket, could probably bench press more than Lillee.
Clarke and company also withstand more public pressure than any previous Australian team. Every move the players make is subject to withering criticism from the media.
If any current player reprised David Boon’s famous airborne drinking session he would be dumped on the first flight back to Sydney and given a lifelong suspension. A few years ago, Andrew Symonds outraged cricket officials with an unscheduled fishing trip.
On the one hand we disparage our sporting stars for being wussy cleanskins, while on the other we condemn them for the tiniest indiscretions. The armchair critics can’t have it both ways.
So lay off the modern sportsman. It’s okay that he uses moisturiser and maintains a basic level of human hygiene. Who cares if he dates a socialite and actually brushes his hair in the morning?
These pampered narcissists have made sport way more entertaining. Instead of having a go at them for being typical modern men, nostalgic fans stuck in the ‘70s should just sit back and enjoy the show.
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