The gilded bird

The greatest and most crushing burden is the burden of guilt.

When we have wronged someone else in some way it fills us, often subconsciously, with fear. Fear that we will be caught out and fear that they will avenge themselves upon us. That fear is stultifying. We are forever watching our words (should we give ourselves away), looking over our shoulders (for the coming of the avenging angel) and in this atmosphere we stagnate. We lose the ability to make eye contact, our speech patterns falter and eventually, in many cases, we find ourselves friendless.

In sporting terms, anyone can cheat, win and get their grotty little paws on the trophy, but they fail to understand that the trophy is just symbolic. Trophies are the way that the sports community honours the players and teams who have honestly and desperately committed themselves to their sport and have prevailed despite their opponents best efforts. The trophy is nothing but a piece of wood and shiny plastic. The important part is the honour of our peers that the trophy represents. By winning in an underhanded and cowardly way, we lose the respect of our peers. Regaining that respect is almost impossible it takes honest repentance, complete recompense and perpetual vigilance against re-offending. Its an onerous road and thats why few people ever truly walk it but for those who have the courage, they will be liberated from fear. (Well, unless they happen to be a big public figure, in which case, the media will hound them to death, like they did to Hansie Cronje. Fortunately for we poor misguided fools, we arent worth millions and the paparazzi arent going to set up camp on our front lawns.)

Sport is all about testing the mettle of its protagonists. Not just their physical ability to catch and run but the underlying truth about their character. What we find out about players on the field of honour tells us how we should interact with them as a general rule. If they are gamesmen or gameswomen and use every trick (inside the laws but outside the spirit of the game) to outwit and scuttle you then it follows that we need to double check their details should they be selling us a car, house or a national telecommunication company. If they are hot headed, it follows that we should never lose our temper with them and always deal with them in a cordial and careful way. And if they cant be trusted on the field then we definitely dont buy any shares theyve suggested.

So much can be learnt about a person on a bit of grass out on an oval. In our normal run-of-the-mill existence its often difficult to get an insight into people. The mask which they present to the world can seem flawless. But out on the paddock its a different ball game and much is revealed.


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