So Nick Kyrgios has declined to represent Australia in tennis at the Rio Olympics, and cited the Australian Olympic Committee’s treatment of him as a reason for his withdrawal.
The response from the sporting public has been predictable: “GOOD! Kid has an ego and throws tantrums on-court. He Tweets too much. He doesn’t deserve to wear the sacred Green and Gold, reserved only for good, hard-working Aussies.”
Australia’s Rio Olympics Chief, Kitty Chiller put it like this:
“I think some of Nick’s comments in social media in the past week shows he doesn’t really understand what it means to be an Australian Olympian.”
The dirty truth of her comments might not be obvious to most. However, the hidden meaning of her comment is plain-as-day to any second-generation Australian.
Nick has been hung out to dry by the Australian Olympic Committee because he’s not Aussie enough.
Yes. It’s racial prejudice.
I’m second-generation Australian, but I’m “blessed” with white skin and a white name. This has given me a unique perspective on the insidious nature of “not being Australian enough.”
I got a pass, you see. I’m Aussie enough because my name and skin aren’t threatening to “dinki di” Australians. Sure, I might drop the ball a bit culturally (not a big drinker, not into footy) but those are passable offences.
Meanwhile, I see my second-generation friends who don’t have a white name or the correct skin colour palette suffer exclusion and condescension. It’s not outright racism. It’s a stealth form of racism that places Australians… citizens born in this country… in a tier-system based on “how Australian they are.”
- Anyone who is not culturally “true blue” is a lesser form of Australian.
- Anyone who is not white is a lesser form of Australian.
- Anyone whose name is difficult to pronounce is a lesser form of Australian.
If you don’t believe me, chances are excellent you tick all the boxes as culturally and physically Australian. But ask any second-generation friend you have whether they’ve ever felt that they’ve been “not Aussie enough.” Chances are excellent that they’ve felt it their whole lives.
Kyrgios was born in Australia. He is an Australian citizen. His is every bit as Australian as Kitty Chiller. To suggest otherwise is simply xenophobic ignorance.
Chiller’s comments are simply a more articulate expression of the same sentiment used in Dawn Fraser’s horrifically racist rant about why Kyrgios and Tomic should “go back to where their parents came from.”
Kyrgios has the on-court tantrums, a soccer-player hairstyle, omnipresent headphones and social media obsession. He even follows basketball, not footy! How “UnAustralian!”
The hypocrisy is astonishing. Our swimmers pop pills, bash each other, smash hotel rooms to pieces, sweep domestic violence under the rug, are drunk in public… but no-one ever suggests they aren’t Australian enough to represent Australia, do they?
At the Delhi Commonwealth Games Australians were involved in an incident where a washing machine was dropped from the EIGHTH-STOREY of an apartment building, which was also trashed. One athlete was sent home, with their identity conveniently suppressed. Others were only reprimanded for an incident that easily could have killed someone.
When Nick D’Arcy was dropped from the 2008 Olympic squad for beating the living daylights out of a teammate, the Beijing Olympic Chief described it as a “difficult decision.”
Ummm… seriously?! A blond-haired, blue-eyed swimmer assaults someone, and apparently it’s a tough call on whether or not he can wear Green and Gold?
I’m not defending Kyrgios as a saint. He needs to reel in the swearing and particularly the embarrassing accusations of umpire corruption whenever things aren’t going his way. And what he said to Stan Wawrinka last year was unsporting in the extreme.
But yelling on court? Showing emotion? Being a bit confrontational? Those are qualities we celebrated in blond-haired, blue-eyed Lleyton Hewitt.
The reality is that tennis, as a sport, has a lot of opportunity for athletes to show emotion during the competitive portion of the event. Tennis has down-time between points and between sets. That’s when we see Kyrgios’ emotional outbursts that the AOC are so quick to consider UnAustralian.
A sprinter can’t show anger or frustration in their 10 seconds of competitive time. Swimmers are underwater. If they had more opportunity to show emotion, I don’t doubt for a second that our hyper-competitive (true-blue) athletes in other sports would show just as much aggression and anger as Kyrgios.
Don’t believe me? Well although it’s not an Olympic sport, cricket has a similar setup where down-time between deliveries is ripe for expressions of anger and emotion. And our cricket team cop a lot of accusations that they’re poor sports, that they sledge too much, that they’re petty and argumentative on the field… and the Australian sporting public defend them at every turn.
No-one ever says our cricketers might not be worthy of the Green and Gold, do they? No, not Clarke and Smith and Warner and Johnson…
Good thing their names are easy to pronounce.
So before condemning Kyrgios’ decision to withdraw from Olympic contention, consider how it must feel for a 21-year-old, born and raised in Australia, to be continually told (subtly, and through passive aggress comments in the media) that they’re not Australian enough.
That’s not fair. In fact, it’s bloody UnAustralian.