It is a sad fact of life that professional athletes, like politicians, typically speak in banal clichés. Except, that is, when they have retired or have fucked up so badly they need to make a public apology, in which case they can be candid, honest and downright entertaining.
New Zealand Cricketer Lou Vincent has effectively done both (fucked up and retired) by today issuing a statement in which he admitted fixing matches during his career. As per the aforementioned convention, the statement was blunt, forceful and engaging.
It kicked-off with the classic opener: stating one’s name and purpose, as leanly as possibly. “My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat”, a simple, yet powerful phrase borrowed from luminaries such as former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (“I’m Kevin and I am here to help”), Ronald Reagan (“I’m from the Government and I am here to help”) and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (“Call Me Ishmael”).
But unlike Herman Melville, the words that followed this classic opening statement did not involve a fanatic sea captain hunting a specific cetacean nemesis.
Instead, Lou Vincent’s mea culpa involved admitting to accepting large sums of cash through fixing outcomes in cricket games.
He continued, “I have shamed my country. I have shamed my sport. I have shamed those close to me. For that I am not proud”. This covers off a lot of bases. It’s generally the shock-jocks and social commentators who reach for the hyperbole when describing scandalized players, but Lou has beaten them to it.
Not only does he admit bringing shame on himself and his loved ones, but he is claiming to have shamed a centuries-old international sport and the 4.3 million people in New Zealand (not an easy feat).
In a departure from most public apologies, Vincent uniquely chose to blame himself.
“It is entirely my fault that I will never be able to stand in front of a game again. It is entirely my fault that I will not be able to apply my skills in a positive way to help future cricketers.”
He also rejected the opportunity to blame any underlying mental health condition.
“I do suffer from depression but it is absolutely no reason or excuse for all that I have done wrong”
Although taking bribes and fixing matches is a terrible thing to do, one has to admire Lou Vincent for sticking his hand up and taking full responsibility for his actions.
In terms of public apologies, I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.
By Ben Shine