Monday, December 13, 2004

Role Models

Have just seen the results of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. The result was highly deserved - Kelly Holmes achievement in doing the Olympic double was sensational, and the excitement of the two races was a joy to behold; something I will remember for a long time. What pleased me most this year, however, was to look at the leading candidates for the award. Holmes, Matthew Pinsent and Andrew Flintoff were the top three; I don't know about the nominations after that, but I imagine Amir Khan and Steve Harmison were fairly high up. It is refreshing to see such thoroughly nice, level-headed and down to earth people having so much success in sport. The media is very quick to criticise fallen heroes or surly stars (see the bad press circulating about Barry Bonds at the moment for a case in point), but it is often slow to celebrate the nice guys who succeed. It makes me very happy, for example, when I read about how Steve Harmison often has misgivings about touring because he misses his young family so much. It is great to see British sport represented by such wonderful role models.

On a similar vein, I think that we must also praise Arjan de Zeeuw for his reaction to a vile incident a couple of weeks ago. El-Hadji Diouf, a most unpleasant character with a reputation for spitting at all and sundry, including young fans of opposing teams, went eyeball-to-eyeball with de Zeeuw and spat in his face. de Zeeuw stood there and made not a flicker of reaction. To keep one's cool in the face of such provocation is admirable, and he should be lauded for his reaction.