Australia’s collective outrage against tennis star Bernard Tomic is emblematic of a simple unfortunate truth.
Most people do not value honesty or authenticity.
Australians would prefer he had lied.
They would rather he obfuscate his inner struggles and make the same tired old comments other players across various sports make about being outplayed, sustaining injury (and continuing to feign it after the match rather than owning up to it), bad luck, being out of form, travel sickness, blaming the umpire, blaming anyone but themselves…
But he told the truth and got crucified for it.
“You know I wasn’t mentally and physically there, with my mental state to perform and I don’t know why… but I felt a little bit bored out there to be completely honest with you.”
If every single person in Australia couldn’t say this about their own job at some point, I’ll eat my hat!
As much as it pains me to say it Waleed Aly is right. Tomic is not obligated to enjoy tennis. Tomic is not obligated to perform. Tomic is allowed to feel shitty about his job like any other person on the planet.
Like every person who judged and ridiculed him.
It’s just like Aly said, “There seems to be this sense of ‘How dare you? How you not enjoy what it is that you’re doing?’ Well, sorry, but from where does that obligation arise?”
Yes it sucks that he took up a place in the draw that could have been someone who wanted to be there.
Yes it sucks that fans expected (and paid for) a proper match and he utterly failed to deliver.
I even think a fair case could be made that he is partly liable for that.
But he qualified on his merit and skill—not on his feelings toward the game. And who knows how he was feeling at the time he got in? There’s every chance the boredom and loss of passion didn’t occur until afterwards anyway. These things can come and go fast.
The argument that the taxpayer has paid $4 million dollars is not an indictment against Tomic’s behaviour.
It’s an indictment against government, cronyism, and wasteful spending. Each and every person should voluntarily choose to donate (or not) to the sporting organisations—not be routinely plundered and forced to do so.
Individual player funds could even be set up to allow discerning people to choose where to put their hard earned money—instead of a tax-payer funded cash cow.
But that’s a rabbit-hole I won’t go down here.
What was he supposed to do, oh wise hyperventilating Australian public?
Back out before-hand (assuming he was feeling off then)—get crucified and end up where he is now?
Further destroy his love for the game by playing on fiercely when he was feeling like shit—possibly break through, possibly end up even worse later on?
Do what he did hoping that his spark would come back (again, assuming he was feeling off beforehand), but lie instead and play up his injury?
There’s a lot of hate for Tomic going around, but all mine is directed straight at Australians who prefer posturing and lies to hard and inconvenient truths about personal struggles.
Tomic is no saint, but I have nothing but respect for him over this. He was in an incredibly awkward position hating being out there but unable to admit it without facing backlash, but he ultimately chose not to continue feigning injury and admit what he was feeling. Even if it meant pissing off thousands of people.
I think that’s admirable.
Post 6/30 (30 day blogging challenge #2—writing quickly) [24m 55s]