Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Have we lost our way when it comes to sport?

By Glen Anderson - posted Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The recent allegations of ball tampering levelled at Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith in the Third Test against South Africa in Cape Town have left many Australians embarrassed. This sort of cheating is not only frowned upon – it is regarded as un-Australian.

As disappointing as the incident is, and as much as it is restricted to a few individuals who are not necessarily representative of the whole, it may speak to a deeper sporting malaise in Australian culture.

Put simply, have we lost our way when it comes to sport?


It could be that commercial imperatives have begun to supersede the spirit of sport itself, namely, a fair contest between opposing and honourable parties.

In an era governed by money and contracts, a win at all costs mentality may be infiltrating the Australian sporting landscape. In such a culture, ball tampering and the like is just another mechanism to achieve success.

The irony, of course, is that this very mentality undermines the endorsement-driven commercial opportunities of elite sports men and women. It now seems likely, for instance, that Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith will lose almost all commercial sponsorships that they currently enjoy.

Australian sport is also suffering from decreasing participation rates. Roy Morgan Research has revealed that in 2001, 34 percent of men aged 14 and over played one or more competitive sports. By 2016, this figure had fallen to just 26 percent. A similar fall-off can be discerned with women: in 2001 the participation rate for women aged 14 and over was 20 percent, but by 2016 it had fallen to 14 percent.

Sports with particularly negative participation rates include tennis (-35 percent), squash (-67 percent), cricket (-10 percent), netball (-24 percent), softball (-24 percent), field hockey (-17 percent), volleyball (-10 percent), rugby league (-27 percent), and rugby union (-63 percent).

The exact reasons for these statistics are unknown. More than likely, however, the rising cost of living – and the corresponding need to work more hours than ever before to make ends meet – has forced Australians to curtail their traditionally high participation rates.


Among the young, there has probably been a renewed emphasis on school and tertiary study, as Australia transitions to a service, knowledge-based economy.

Participation rates have also likely dropped due to the well-known childhood obesity epidemic: once physical conditioning gives way to obesity, sport ceases to be pleasurable, and instead becomes an ordeal.

In light of these problems, it is perhaps unsurprising that Australia's sporting performance has taken a tumble in the rankings.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

4 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Glen Anderson is a lecturer in law at the University of Newcastle. Dr Anderson researches and teaches in the areas of international law, equity, company and property law. He has formerly taught Australian and international politics.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Glen Anderson

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 4 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy