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  Issue No 82 Official Organ of LaborNet 20 December 2000  




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The Locker Room

The Workers Online 2000 Sporting Awards

Judged by Noel Hester and Peter Moss

Forget the Olympics, these are the big ones; the awards for the real qualities like humility, preserverence and being a good dinner party companion.



Dinner Guest of the Year Award - Sunline

OK their sportspeople can't win a trick but what about those Kiwi horses- EH? I've never been able to take Swan Jason Saddington seriously ever since he nominated Octagonal as one of five people he'd invite to a dinner party in a Footy Record profile. But now, anthropomorphically speaking, I can see his point of view. I'd slip Sunline with a bowl of oats between Juliette Binoche with a rice wafer (a spunk is compulsory at these dinner parties), and Steve Waugh with a plate of nails. Actually I might put the horse next to me. I suspect Sunline would say more and laugh louder than those two. This sensational mare cemented her greatness with an awesome 7-length win in the Cox Plate - her second Plate on the trot. There's more to come. The best racemare I have ever seen.

The Bugger Being Humble Award - Winner: Anthony Mundine

We hate you Choc, we love you Choc, we hate you, we love you - cos you're a winner and therefore a great Australian. He still has a fair journey ahead but Mundine is well on the way to proving his own hype - that he really is an exceptional athlete capable of switching disciplines and going all the way. Sure he has the pedigree but it's still a formidable ask to begin a completely new sports career at the age of 25 and head for the top. Well managed and placed Mundine has shredded along the learning arc with each fight. After only four professional bouts and within a year he's a realistic chance for the Australian title next up. A blistering pace, we fear burnout, whatever you're taking, Choc, take it easy.

The Lionel Murphy Agitators Award: Australian Women's Water Polo Team

To paraphrase the late, great jurist: 'Our water polo team are entitled to be agitators.' Two years ago in a memorable moment these admirable women brought sex, guts and savvy to the art of demonstrating as they made the Grand Ole Misogynists of the IOC walk a gauntlet of shame at Sydney Airport as they pushed for the introduction of their sport into the Olympic arena. Fast forward two years and we have the ultimate vindication: a thrilling, heart stopping, last gasp win in the Olympic final. It was the Olympics in microcosm - an obscure sport producing edge-of-seat drama and a quickening of the pulse.

The Holy Grail Award for Perseverance - George Piggins

They can beat him on the field, they can beat him in the courts, they can beat him in News Limited's compromised sports pages. But no-one can make the pug-nosed, cauliflowered-eared former hooker George Piggins give up his fight to save South Sydney Rugby League Club. As the public face of the campaign to save the Rabbitohs, George has transcended his own sporting and business achievements to become that rare entity of the modern era - a genuine community leader fighting for what is right against the venal power of the Murdoch empire. At times one is reminded of the brave but foolish character in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail who wanted to go again after losing all four limbs in a swordfight. But George is no lone nutter. His leadership is part of the reason the Battle for Souths is bigger than the Battle for Souths. Why else are we seeing hundreds of thousands of people getting active in the Souths campaign - when so few were prepared to attend the club's games in latter years?

The Real McCoy Award for Leadership - Steve Waugh

Unlike some cricketing nations, Australia has not struggled to produce captains of stature over the last 15 years. In Border and Taylor we had two of the greats. Pretty big boots, it seemed, for Steve Waugh to slip into. But only a couple of years into his captaincy, Waugh is set to go down as one of our very greatest, and not just thanks to his leadership during the record string of Test wins and , earlier, the World Cup. Waugh has remade the character of his team according to the qualities he himself has displayed throughout his career. Unflinching determination and concentration, fierce pressure and aggression, the insight to identify the opponent's vulnerability and then to ruthlessly exploit that. To overcome fear by confronting and staring down the source. You see this stuff on silly t-shirts, but Steve Waugh is the genuine article. Herschelle Gibbs will go to his grave with Waugh's sledge 'you just dropped the World Cup' for company. With Waugh at the helm, there are no more soft losses or draws when a series is decided. Every day in every Test is played as if it might be the last. And Waugh off the pitch is a bloke you'd happily sharing a beer with - though I'm not sure he'd stretch to a latte. He's not matey with the Prime Miniature, he's got a demonstrated humanitarian streak and the writing and photography in his tour diaries are not bad at all. Crikey, he's even got the players researching and delivering talks on Australian history at team meetings.

The Deigo Maradonna Award for Partying - Jai Taurimo

Who said you have to join a monastery if you want to make it in elite sport? Not Jai Taurimo, who took out the long jump Silver Medal in September. At 4am the next day he was snapped celebrating - not in some elite club with the A-list, but propping up the public bar with the locals at the Homebush Hotel. He had a fag in hand and 19 bourbon and cokes lined up down the bar. What a contrast to Tatiana Grigorieva whose first reported words after she took Silver in the pole vault referred to the millions of dollars she would now make marketing herself.

The Mother Theresa Award: Cathy Freeman

The sports story of the year - nine million Australians didn't watch Cathy win the 400 metre final. Get onto this Phillip Ruddock. If ever you needed a reason for expanding Woomera or increasing the number of one way flights to Auckland this is it. This was a post-modernist perfect moment - like watching the virgin birth or Buddha's enlightenment on CNN. Like a beautiful sprite (as one English paper described her) Cathy loped a lap in 40 odd seconds and made herself into more than a legend - more like our first black saint. It wasn't the most memorable Olympic sports victory but with the suffocating weight of our expectations and in the context of our current bizarre race relations it was up there with Jesse Owens' as a monumental human achievement. Goodonya Cathy!

The Lucretia Borgia Popularity Award - Winner Michael Knight

If you were to believe the media, a man as sinister as Satan, more Machiavellian than Richo, as reviled as Hitler. But hey, the buck stopped with him for the organisation of the most successful Olympics ever and he did bring the freewheeling IOC warlords back into our stratosphere. What about that old Spanish Nazi Samaranch catching a bus from the airport? Or Kevan Gosper relentlessly made to munch on humble pie. Welcome to Australia poppies!! The Black Knight has a true talent for pushing the hate buttons. Witness the vicious editorial in the Herald -normally a paragon of bourgeois moderation and understatement -when Knight announced his resignation. Thanks for the memories Michael: the 'I'd like to thank my wife and my mum and my' speech at the closing ceremony, the hard man saying sorry, sorry, sorry.

The Peter Reith Award for Hypocrisy - Davis Cup team's crowd complaints

Men's tennis, like most individual sports, rarely gets the blood up. Wimbledon, the Aussie Open and the Davis Cup are exceptions. Full credit to the team for their magnificent Davis Cup record over the last two years, but what about the wankery spouted by Newcombe and Hewitt over the standard of the Barcelona crowds? The Tele magnified the duo's complaints in a front page that aped one of the London Sun's more memorable pieces of jingoism. Since when do we have a problem with passionate, partisan, raucous crowds at sporting events? Never, that's when. Congratulations to the Spaniards who made all that noise. It was a very Australian thing you did.

The Sold Soul Award - Carl Lewis

The Quixotic campaign to force Nike to improve labour standards and human rights in the company's Asian sweatshops was always going to be swamped by Nike's massive PR machine during the Olympics. But let's face it - every athlete and every sporting club sponsored by Nike must by now be aware that something is seriously wrong with the company's employment practices. We can't expect the Cathy Freemans and Tiger Woods to shoulder the burden for every injustice on the planet. But we can expect more of former USA Olympic champion and multiple Gold Medallist Carl Lewis, who acted as Nike's media hitman just prior to the Sydney Games. At the time an energetic no-budget Community Aid Abroad campaign was gaining a bit of coverage with it's call for Olympic sponsor Nike to live up to the Olympic ideal. Nike wheeled out the track-and-field legend on JJJ radio to tell Australia's youth that Nike workers were happy, free and well-paid.

Peter Moss is a Director of Lodestar Communications


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 82 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Being Michael Costa
Labor Council�s secretary on the 2KY sell-off, the Olympics and his plans for the future.
*  Unions: Millennial Milestones
In a year of highs, some trade union stories stuck in the collective consciousness. Here's ten of the best.
*  International: Eric Lee's Year in Review
The editor of Labourstart looks back on the global issues that mobilized labour in the past 12 months.
*  Organising: Dispatches from the Field
Despite the 'Botsmanesque' critiques which have been levelled at Organising, it would be hard to deny that the year 2000 has seen more and more unions in NSW latch onto the approach - at least in principle anyway.
*  Economics: Who Gets Gold??
At the end of this Olympic year, Sydney Uni's Frank Stilwell charts the winners and losers in the new sport of redistribution of income.
*  Politics: Election 2000: The Winner is Gridlock
In the last in his series on the US Federal Election Campaign, Michael Gadiel, our roving reporter, gladly signs off.
*  Satire: Chaser Launches Book
In the great tradition of repackaging old material to cash in on Christmas, the team from The Chaser & Silly 2000 has produced its first book.
*  Review: Cultural Wasteland
The spotlight was on Australian culture in 2000. But was it a missed opportunity, asks Peter Zangari.

»  Mad Monk's Secret Union Past
»  New Life for Trades Hall
»  Top Cop is Our Organiser of the Year
»  All We Want for Christmas
»  Summer for Social Justice
»  Unions Return to Mosh Pit
»  Unions Head West
»  Big Bastard Censors Dissidents
»  South Coast Labor President Steps Down
»  As a Died in the Wool Westie Steps Up
»  Dying Workers' Asbestos Plea
»  Workers at Centre of Turn Of the Century
»  Truth about S11 Starting to Come Out

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  The Greatest Team Ever?
»  ABC Online Did Strike
»  Why Nader Vote was not Wasted
»  John Scrooge's Christmas Gift

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