Sport has become such an unhappy business

On Friday night players from the Melbourne Football Club ran through a banner littered with mean tweets and other social media commentary aimed at them by people who wanted to insult and demean them.

One comment, about ruckman Max Gawn read, “F— me dead Im sick of seeing Max Gawn.” Another called Melbourne captain Nathan Jones a “dirty dog”. Neville Jetta was called “a scum bag”, and Tom McDonald “a flog”.

The Demons run through their banner on Friday night.

The Demons run through their banner on Friday night.Credit:AAP

While the Melbourne campaign was directed at putting a stop to online trolls, the bigger issue concerns player welfare, which just might be the biggest issue confronting professional sport this century.

The current crop of athletes around the world are the wealthiest, most popular and powerful group of athletes in the history of sport. But, while money can buy many things, happiness is not one of them.


Last month NBA commissioner Adam Silver was asked how he would describe todays group of super-rich, popular and increasingly powerful players. His response was shocking.

“When I meet with them, what surprises me is that theyre truly unhappy,” he said.

He later added, “The reality is that most dont want to play together. Theres enormous jealousy amongst our players.''

Keep in mind Silver was speaking about the most highly paid players in the sports history. The best of them receive more than $35 million a year.

But perhaps the business of sport is the problem. It seems athletes of today see themselves as caught in the stranglehold and pressure cooker of professional sport and for some its simply too much. Its no longer fun, which makes you wonder if sport was ever meant to be this serious.

It was once a pastime, a distraction with few, if any, significant consequences. After all, we were "only playing". But not any more. Now, anyone having too much fun will be attacked for not taking their job seriously enough.

Two years ago, Essendon forward Joe Daniher was widely condemned for hugging Melbourne defender and former teammate Michael Hibberd during a match. Many football experts were scathing of Danihers jocularity, questioning his focus and attitude. Garry Lyon wondered aloud if Danihers "happy go lucky" attitude was hurting his game.

The message was clear: "Having too much fun on the footy field is not allowed.''

Yet, perhaps this issue is broader than sport. After all, the games we play and the way we play them have always acted as an expression of the wider population. A recent study into the happiness of young adults in America revealed that the percentage of 18 to 34-year-olds reporting they were "very happy" in life fell to just 25 per cent. For young men it was just 22 per cent.

How can this be?

Silver pointed the finger at technology, arguing it had aided in stimulating a lonely, isolated existence in an environment that should, in fact, uphold notions of community.

“If youre aRead More – Source