I have been in Australia for a few months now and have come to love the people and their laidback “no worries” approach to life. They love a laugh, a beer and their sports. That is, until they lose.
Never have I come across a nation of people who are such bad losers. I had been aware of it from afar during the past two rugby World Cups, and particularly in the 2008 Olympics. But the message was really hammered home during the Ashes cricket series this month.
Personally, I am not a big cricket fan. However, recently I have been working in Brisbane as a door-to-door salesman, enjoying chatting with heaps of Aussies, the majority of which were very friendly and chatty.
That is until England did the unthinkable (and the unusual) – winning the second test of the Ashes series.
Suddenly doors were slammed in my face as soon as they heard my dulcet Brummie tones, and cries of “not another goddamn Pom,” echoed around Brisbane’s leafy suburbs, often in a somewhat more colourful manner.
As an Englishman and a sports lover, I have been forced to come to terms with the fact that we invented most of these sports, but that everybody else is better at them.
Such is the joy on the rare occasion we defy the odds and lift the cloud of gloom that hovers above English sports, it is with a bitter taste that I endure some of the Aussie taunts.
In the Olympics, Great Britain finished above Australia in the medals table for the first time in a long time. Now, I never would have noticed this, being too busy basking in the successful glow of our cycling and rowing teams.
That is until the Aussie headlines suddenly appeared, stating, “Poms can only win at sitting-down sports!”
In the last rugby world cup, England knocked out Australia and the headlines read, “Losing a World Cup final is forgivable. Being defeated by B-grade opponents isn’t.”
I also recently discovered this Aussie trait isn’t merely linked to international sports. I watched with interest the State of Origin rugby league series (between Queensland and New South Wales). Name calling and excuse giving followed from both sides.
Now, why it is that Australians find it so hard to lose?
All I could come up with is that they are so used to winning.
Their swimming teams have been striking fear into other water-dwellers for decades, their rugby teams have been up there for God knows how long, and with cricketers like Ricky Ponting, they have dominated that game for well over a decade.
A foolish Pom’s plea
But suddenly things have changed. Their rugby team looks a shadow of its former self, the cricket team is beginning to age, and there was a relatively poor showing at the Olympics. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Now of course, nobody likes to lose. It isn’t a nice feeling. However, most sporting nations are able to be fairly gracious in defeat and credit the victors for their superiority on the day.
It is beyond doubt Australian sports will rise again. I’m sure they have plenty more thrashings to deal out to Great Britain in the future, but I can’t help but feel that if they want to sustain their success, then sometimes they need to just hold up their hands and admit they were second best.
This is, of course, just the ramblings of a foolish Pom, and we are not exactly a whole heap better at losing – it has become more a reluctant way of life.
But I ask, or rather plead, that if we should ever shock the world again by winning something, let us enjoy it, just for a moment!