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It was Keith Harrison's turn to give a viewpoint tonight. He said,

'When I joined Todd Corporation 4 years ago, one of the first things I had to do was sign a code of conduct in which I agreed not to bully or harass anyone, steal the stationery, spend all day reading Stuff or take drugs at work. This code, based on the company values, sets the rules that ensure people respect each other and the company. And there are consequences for not complying with them.

'As a lad growing up in the 60s, I used to play soccer and one of the things I learned early on was to follow the rules and respect the decisions of the ref.

'I was also a soccer fan. My team was West Ham and my heroes were Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. One of the most entertaining games of the season was West Ham against Tottenham. West Ham usually lost but the game was always played with good spirit and there was never any poor behaviour on display. Both teams showed each other respect.

'I don’t recall players at that time arguing with the ref, diving around and pretending to be hurt to influence the refs' decisions, and sending offs were uncommon.

'I also used to enjoy watching tennis in the days of Rod Laver and Billie Jean King. Again I don’t recall line calls being disagreed with or the umpire’s calls being questioned.

'And then in the 1970s, sport seemed to change.

'Ilie Năstasie introduced a new dimension to the game, frequently challenging the umpire, and this was taken up several notches by John McEnroe.

'And so the Tennis associations introduced codes of conducts, as did many other sporting codes to address increasingly poor behaviour on the field.

'At the same time, sports stars were commanding larger and larger paychecks and more and more lucrative sponsorships. Athletes were starting to become important as individuals – with even greater celebrity status. But this was also a time when the demands on athletes started to grow – winning was everything and using every means to do so became a greater pressure.

'In the last few weeks, the world of sport has been mired in a deep controversy when an elite sports athlete has not only disagreed with the umpire but accused him of cheating and of being sexist.

'The facts are quite clear that the umpire was acting correctly in issuing three code violations. The first was for cheating - receiving coaching during the game – something the coach has even admitted and which other players say is usual behaviour for many players and it is surprising that it has not been called out more often. Coaching is a code violation.

'The second violation was for getting angry and breaking a racket out of frustration when things weren’t going her way. Breaking a racket is a code violation.

'The third violation was for a two-minute tantrum over the second code violation, during which the umpire was subjected to an unacceptable level of invective and all match officials agreed that a third violation was warranted.

'Serena Williams has been a very successful sportswoman. She has a net worth of over US$180m. Elite sport requires an incredible degree of determination and total commitment. She has also become used to winning and getting her own way.
But no sportsperson has the right to treat a match official to the treatment dealt out to Carlos Ramos, a respected umpire who received a fraction of the pay Serena did for losing.

'The debate about sexism or racism is not relevant. Serena was in the wrong and whilst she may have been a victim in the past, this did not apply in this match and her doubling down on her sexism claims shows how backed into a corner she is. And of course, there are those who see this as an opportunity to pursue their own agendas.

'To show that this point of view is not just directed at Serena Williams, one of soccer's highest paid and supposedly best players, Ronaldo, was recently sent off, for an incredible twelfth time in his career. When he finally left the field after a protracted period of arguing he threw himself on the ground and behaved like a spoiled 5-year-old. Ronaldo is another of these sports stars who have been incredibly successful, earned an obscene amount of money (US$400m) and developed an over-inflated view of their importance to the game.

'These and other stars have developed the idea that they are somehow bigger than the sport and that the rules don’t apply to them. We’ve seen many examples of this type of behaviour in recent times; Australian cricketers sledging and cheating, Lance Armstrong taking drugs and intimidating team members, to name other examples.

'So, it doesn’t matter how good a sportsperson is, how many trophies won, how much they have been paid or how much their fans love them. If a player does not respect the rules and the referees who enforce them, then they do not respect the game. And they do not deserve our respect'.

Mutual respect

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