“Bringing the game into disrepute”.
It’s pretty much equivalent to blasphemy these days. The more matters are disclosed, the more the problem with the men’s Australian Cricket team captain seems to be as much that he demonstrated an inability to understand the symbolism of his role and his actions as that he colluded in ball tampering, bad as that is.
It’s not the first time in cricket a captain has been found to have tampered with a ball.
Sport in Australia has become, for the past two or three generations, what Sunday school was until the 1970s. It is the place where parents take their children to learn about life; to learn character and to learn the rule of life; how to succeed, how to fail, how to cooperate and participate in community. They also have modelled to them by parents and coaches and club members a strong volunteer ethic. It’s a very worthy space, at least at the local club level.
While ball tampering has been a part of cricket for some time; the collusion, the brazen acknowledgement from the men’s Australian captain has triggered something in the zeitgeist.
It has offended our national projection about sport and its social value. The collapse of respect for many social institutions due to irrelevance, or failure to exercise quality stewardship of the ideals of the institutions, has now come to the house of cricket.
In this week where we remember that “it is expedient that someone should die for the sake of the country”, I wonder if, aside from the due process that the participants in this sorry tale should be subject to, they are also being subject to something far more powerful: the offense to the idealistic projections of a culture. This is a deep and strong shadow. Once released, it is a brutal shadow that destroys.
Christian faith knows about this shadow; Jesus provoked it and it crucified him. Christian faith also knows that which this culture seems to need to repress; we’re all fundamentally flawed. It’s our job to live in such a way that lets that be true, but to also say, that’s not the end of the story. We can show some acknowledgement of reality, and some mercy here.