It’s all about respect in sport
PLAYING sport used to be what Australians did - every weekend mums and dads would pack up the car on Saturday morning and head off to various grounds for their son's and daughter's games.
They would then either play sport themselves or head off to a local game to support their team.
But times have changed and sport is suffering what looks to be a slow death - the participation numbers and crowds are the evidence of that.
How do we fix the problem?
There are many people with even more answers on how to fix the problem, but regardless of what the final answer is we must start with one thing.
And there is not much of it going around.
Whether it's respect for the opposition players, referees/umpires, people in the stands or those in charge of the sport, we must start respecting each other or sport will die.
As a player I have been on the end of some sledging, some of it funny and deserving of credit, like the time I was shuffling off the field at Hervey Bay one day, exhausted, and I was asked if I was having a rest on the bench or going to get a pie from the canteen.
Some of the comments I have heard at various sports recently hurled over the fence towards players haven't quite met the same standard of comedy and have been personal insults.
I can see why player numbers are down, not as many people go to the games and why it is hard to attract referees and volunteers.
Why would players want to take that abuse?
Why would a family want to sit in the stands listening to that language?
Why would people want to give their time to have their players/club treated like that?
There wouldn't be a reason good enough when there is so much to do away from sport these days and that is why it is suffering.
Until we start to respect our opposition, the players on the field, the referees/umpires and volunteers sport will continue to die.
It will take one club to make a stand and enforce rules regarding its members showing respect, and when it gets a reputation of being the standard in the competition it will attract players and officials and it will see numbers grow.
The respect should have never gone from the game, but it's not too late to bring it back.