"It's not whether you won or lost but how you played the game."
This often repeated sentiment was first expressed by famed American sportswriter Grantland Rice back in 1908.
I wonder what old Grantland would make of things were he to be resurrected today and pointed towards having an analytical squiz at our modern sporting attitudes.
I doubt he'd be all that impressed: It seems fairly obvious that, contrary to Rice's ideal, the nature of play has fallen well and truly behind the importance of winning in our overall scheme of things.
Win at all costs.
The importance of winning has become such that troublesome athletes are tolerated and their transgressions remarkably quickly forgiven, the only caveat being that they'd better keep performing.
David Warner just scooped this year's Allan Border Medal. Now there's a turnaround - from a year's suspension for cheating to being the recipient of Australian cricket's most prestigious award.
Even Border himself seemed a little nonplussed, defending Warner's entitlement to the medal, but at the same time allowing, a little cagily perhaps, that maybe the voting system should be looked into.
Now there's a turnaround - from a year's suspension for cheating to being the recipient of Australian cricket's most prestigious award.
This all pretty much coincides with the sudden reframing of Nick Kyrgios as some type of golden child.
One good local tournament where he demonstrated behaviour on the court that was, admittedly, far from flawless but, still, a dramatic improvement on his previous antics and we all, as a nation, seem to have decided that Nick's all right after all.
The fact that he is such an exciting prodigious talent? Nah, nothing to do with it. We're just such an innately forgiving bunch ...
Who'd Be A Coach?
And being on the topic of winning is as good a time as ever for the next instalment of "Who'd Be a Coach?" (I have no idea what number in the series this should be; I've lost count.)
Lisa Alexander has been coaching the Australian netball side since 2011. She took the team to a gold medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and outright victory in the following year's World Cup.
The team won silver at the next major event, the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and were also runners up in the 2019 World Cup, losing by one goal to New Zealand.
Under Alexander they have an 81 per cent winning record.
It would seem this is not good enough for Netball Australia. In the wake of the one goal loss to the Kiwis, NA, in a flurry of euphemism, have declared that due to an "appetite for change" they will "part ways" with Alexander and intend to "go to market".
All this came as quite a surprise to Alexander, who still had 10 months left to run on her contract. She was, however, gracious in her acceptance of dismissal.
The idea that second place in a World Cup (losing by a single goal at that) should be deemed such a colossal failure that a head must roll would seem to fairly sum up where we're at in our attitudes these days.
And can you really blame a loss by a one goal margin on a coach? It must be strange, as a coach, watching somebody shoot and knowing that, if they miss, it's your bum and not theirs on the line.
Tremendous but expensive news
Maitland has had three juniors selected to represent NSW in the Under 18 Australian Hockey Championships to be played in Launceston in April.
Expensive news for them though. In order to play in the side you need to front up $2500, which covers flights and accommodation, and then on top of that you have to contribute towards team living expenses.
By the time you buy your own uniform you can probably add on another grand. Serious bucks. And this type of situation is far from confined to hockey.
Everybody I ask seems able to describe a similar circumstance in another sport. There's nothing cheap about kids' pursuits these days, and families sporting multiple junior athletes are certainly feeling it.
What happens if you're selected and don't have the cash?
One of the things shown by this latest "Sports Rorts" affair has been how much money is floating around in these various budgets.
Surely it should not be beyond reason that some of this could be directed towards the travel costs of our junior representative sportspeople. They are, after all, our future Olympians.
We want to win, don't we?