The question of the behaviour of sportsmen has been a topic of regular comment on this blog. I have bemoaned the lowering of standards of behaviour and praised those clubs and codes prepared to make a statement about such behaviour. I have commented on domestic violence and sportsmen and the massive double standard that seems to pervade such cases. In the interests of, therefore, fairness it is important also recognise when a player of sport conducts himself in a positive way.
Quade Cooper and his conduct in recent weeks has been nothing short of exemplary and deserves our acclamation. Simply, has there been a player under more scrutiny from the fans and the pundits in recent weeks? The focus of attention has been on Cooper because of the ongoing saga of his selection or otherwise in the Wallabies squad to face the British and Irish Lions. During the totality of the recent weeks when all and sundry have been talking about whether he would be selected and, more particularly, the “feud” with Robbie Deans he has remained respectful and honest in his work with the media and has continued to play solid, if not error free, rugby.
If the story, and this blog, ended here such conduct would still be worthy of acclamation particularly in light of where Cooper was behaviour wise last year. Certainly under more scrutiny now than ever before his “toxic culture” comments and certainly baited by some quarters in the press he has kept his mouth shut and clearly has shown that he has learned from his previous falls. However: this is only half the story.
It has now been made official that he will not be in said Wallabies squad to face the British and Irish Lions. I have commented vociferously about that on twitter and will let my twitter comments and lack of future attendance at Wallabies games speak for themselves in that regard.
Since the announcement that Cooper was not to be selected in the Wallabies squad he has conducted himself in a manner, in my view, beyond reproach and deserving of acclaim. His interviews about this topic, whilst others have bayed for Deans’ blood, have been direct and honest without bring himself or the game into disrepute. More particularly, when faced with an abusive “fan” yesterday evening in a pub in the suburbs of Brisbane and doused with a full beer, he declined to take the first punch and declined to get involved in a physical confrontation.
Evidence from years past suggest that this is not the approach that Cooper would have taken previously and it is the maturity shown in not rising to the bait of a physical altercation having just had his British and Irish Lions dream shattered that must now impress those who previously have been “haters” of the person Cooper is without knowing him other than to read about him in the paper or watch him play the beautiful game.
We are quick to jump all over the players of sport that we watch when they make a mistake. We are less swift to give them the acclaim they warrant when they conduct themselves in the right way and, indeed, show that they have learned from the past.
Well done Q Cooper: for how you have conducted yourself in the face of the scrutiny surrounding the “Deans feud” and for your conduct in declining to take the first punch. I, for one, salute you!