Opinion  |  

Dear Izzy, if only you had behaved like an elite athlete

So you’ve been banned from Australian Rugby Union. After two posts on social media declaring the Bible’s message about judgement and salvation – including toward homosexual people – the RA hierarchy has had enough. And understandably so.

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The audacity of sharing from the Bible on your personal social media account in your own time crosses the threshold into unacceptably bad behaviour for an elite athlete like yourself.

Look, Izzy, here’s the reality: if only you had behaved like elite athletes who carried out acceptable bad behaviours, you would still have your job. (Sure, you might have received a tap on the wrist, lost some cash, perhaps been suspended for a while, but you wouldn’t have been fired).

What were you thinking, Izzy?

So, in case you still don’t get it, let me get specific about what acceptable bad behaviour looks like for elite athletes. SMH sports writer Darren Kane has put together a nice list, which I’ll share with you now.

If your wife had been heavily pregnant, and you laid your boot into her stomach while she lay on the floor cowering in the foetal position, you would not be banned.

If you had picked up your ex-girlfriend and hurled her into a garage door at 2am following an epic bender, you’d still be on track for your job. If you had only kicked the livin’ daylights out of an unconscious man lying in the gutter, outside a nightclub, you could have avoided this heartache you’re now in.

But no, Izzy. You had to go all the way and do something so much worse than these acceptable misbehaviours: you shared the Bible’s message on your own social media page. Now that is unacceptable.

(I mean, it’s not like Rugby Australia could have come out and said ‘While Israel Folau’s views are not those of Rugby Australia or its affiliates, he has not broken any law and is entitled to his own views as an employee in a free country.’)

Look, had you merely smashed an opponent’s jaw to smithereens in a pre-meditated on-field incident, or gouged at an opponent player’s eyes with all the fervour of a nine-year-old excising the last skerrick of ice cream from a four-litre tub, you’d be back on the field sooner than you could say ‘Qantas airlines’.

If all you had done was manhandle referees, assault teammates and bash them to a pulp, or stolen money from your fellow players’ wallets while they weren’t looking, you would eventually be right to play.

If you had only been caught on video bragging about your adoration of the “Bondi marching powder” or tested positive to using prohibited substances either in or out of competition like other elite athletes, RA would eventually welcome you back with open arms for the World Cup.

But no, Izzy. You had to be that squeaky-clean upstanding player who’s never been found guilty of any crime. Never been found guilty of any misdemeanour. And who’s one of the most respected players on the field today. I’m lost for words by your behaviour.

Izzy, Izzy, Izzy. What were you thinking? I mean, sharing from the same book that inspired people like that heinous black civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr? Don’t you know what a bigot he was? (America would be so much better off today if King had kept his Bible-spewing mouth shut).

And as far as your actual post is concerned, don’t you get that any disapproval of someone else’s views or behaviour is the epitome of hating them? As any teenager will tell you, the only reason their parents ever disapprove of their behaviour is because their parents hate them with a passion.

If only you knew all this before you posted, Izzy.

You see, our culture has progressed. We’re now so enlightened, so in tune with what’s acceptable, that we don’t have any blind-spots (just like the culture of Martin Luther King’s day didn’t have any blind-spots). We know exactly what true ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ is. So how dare you even suggest there are things we might have wrong.

Izzy, I’ll be praying for you, that if you ever get into elite sport again, you’ll only be tempted to carry out acceptable bad behaviours. Your future career will thank me for it.

Akos Balogh is the CEO of The Gospel Coalition Australia. This has been republished with permission from his blog.

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