The Australian public loves a hero. We worship successful athletes like the Incas (or George Hamilton) worshiped the sun. Whether it’s a full-blown ticker-tape parade or a boozy victory song in the sheds, we love winning – and celebrating those who win. But there’s one thing we love even more than a winner – it’s a villain.
The villains in Australian sport sell just as many if not more papers than their successful, blemish-free adversaries. Ryan Tandy, Ricky Nixon, Sally Robbins, Robert Lui, Jason Akermanis, Brett Stewart – these folk have been in the papers for much longer than any successful, non-controversial athlete I can think of. And yes, I wanted to include Rebecca Wilson and Peter Roebuck in that list, but apart from being absolute villains in my mind, their complete absence of sporting or other talent prevents them from keeping such esteemed company. [Ed: While his writing style is questionable at best, Roebuck is allegedly a fierce spanker of young South African males]
Across the Australian media, two characters have contested the undesirable spotlight for villain of the week. One a colourful yet heartless dictator who seized power of a small but powerful Arab country by way of military coup, and the other a New Zealand-born Wallaby fly half.
Before his death this week Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, aka fuzzhead (seriously), certainly fits into the Bond-style villain category. He had a team of stunning Amazonian women as bodyguards, designed and owned his very own rocket car, sported a plethora of wacky outfits, and always carried a golden gun.
Both Gaddafi and Cooper seem to be hated in spite of their flair; they’ve both been put out of action this week (one permanently), and both have extremely dubious taste (Gaddafi in clothes, Cooper in women). But that’s where the similarities end. As Cooper sits at home for the next six months recovering from knee surgery he might be asking himself why the public have branded him a villain, and what he can do to turn this image around.
As always, we at The Public Apology have some suggestions for the young fly-half:
- Get a new manager. Khoder Nasser is an absolute bell end. Sonny Bill Williams and Anthony Mundine are the second and third most hated men in Australian sport behind you, we suggest keeping your distance. Go with someone reputable (i.e. not Max Markson).
- Frame Berrick Barnes for something really bad, the more scandalous the better. Gang rape and girlfriend-beating have been proven as the most effective methods of career assassination.
- Sign with a struggling NRL team. Best go with Parramatta – that way you might be forgiven for using the club in the money-grabbing bullshit that went on last pre-season.
- Get yourself an illness. The public love an athlete bouncing back from adversity; they are willing to forgive all discrepancies if, like Lance Armstrong, you’re sick enough to lose a testicle.
And if all these fail, accept that you’ll always be hated and likely end up spending your final days hiding in a drain pipe. Go and get yourself a smoking hot pack of cheerleaders to follow you round and aid as protection from annoying sports journalists.
And maybe even splash out on some kind of super car, the odd safari suit and a pair of golden boots.
By Luke Meredith