OPINION: Okay, it wasn't classy and it wasn't clever.
The actions of Australian Olympic swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk, posing with weaponry in a United States gun shop, were those of young men happily striking their best ain't-it-cool poses.
In a word: laddish. But absolutely no big deal.Whereas, the truly juvenile, truly thoughtless and truly indefensible offence was the way Australian Olympic officials then reacted.
They have stonily decided the two swimmers must return home from the Olympics after they have competed and before the great-fun closing ceremony.
For what, exactly? Bringing themselves and the Australian team into disrepute.
What arrant nonsense.
Fun with guns is a thoroughly bad thing if it's irresponsible or dangerous, but this just wasn't, unless we ascribe to some notion that guns require not just caution, but po-faced ceremonial reverence.
Neither young man was brandishing a firearm inappropriately, or pointing it as if to fire. D'Arcy, holding handguns sideways in the manner of many a bad-movie poster, has been reported as having a Dirty Harry sneer. In which case, he needs acting lessons. It was hardly menacing.
Monk, even less so. Holding crossed shotguns he looks more like a hillbilly. Not one of those scary ones from Deliverance either. More like Jethro Clampett.
Many a Southlander would have looked at that photo and wondered what on earth the fuss was about.
The barely subterranean issue here is that the officials are liable to have been on a hair-trigger as far as D'Arcy is concerned. He was thrown off the 2008 Olympic team after he drunkenly king-hit teammate Simon Cowley, causing him terrible injuries. Then, when in the gun for $180,000 damages after a civil lawsuit, he filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of $800,000.
Nothing endearing there. Certainly not action that befits the Olympic ideal, as they say.
The thing is, with all athletes and even those who represent their country, there should be a difference between a shimmering ideal and a sensible minimum standard.
There's a strong case to be put that D'Arcy has been capable of behaving like an oaf, and worse. But on athletic performance he deserves to take his place at the highest echelon of his sport.
It is lazy, unfair and terribly unwise to expect anybody, particularly young people, to be paragons of the finest virtues because they have the talent and character to excel at their sports.
We should admire them for what is admirable about them – and accept that that will vary. Some sporting bad-behavers, by the way, manage to turn out pretty well, once they have grown up a bit.
In this case, the Australian Olympic officials have come across as not only mean, but hypocritical. Is there a single commentator out there who has failed to wonder whether an Aussie shooter appearing in Facebook in speedos, larking about in water – dangerous stuff that it is, if you disrespect it – would be be similarly penalised?
It even turns out that the national swimming team was in 2007 taken to a rifle range in Canberra as a team bonding exercise. We'll just have to take it on trust that none of them was photographed with goofily inappropriate smiles or anything.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is this bill a good move?Related story: Govt brings forward synthetic cannabis bill