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What Sport’s “Bubble Boys” Can Learn From Laura Geitz

 

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Author Michael Blucher answers why there are no female athletes in “Bubble Boys” by explaining what Australia’s biggest sports stars can learn from Laura Geitz

 

Given the highly sensitised, politically correct world in which we we now live, I wasn’t at all surprised when immediately after launching Bubble Boys, I was fielding criticism of my scant reference to female athletes.

I thought I’d provided a pretty useful hint in the title as to the subject matter, but alas, some still insisted the focus of the book should have been more equitably shared. (I’m guessing they’re part of the same breed who every November/December, resume campaigning for the introduction of “Person Christmas”, to replace that overweight, outdated 17th century plodder, Father). But I digress.

To prove that I’m not female-sport-a-phobic, I’m going o devote this entire edition of the Whistle to the biggest, brightest, boldest “Bubble Girl” I know. Australian Diamonds Netball captain Laura Geitz.

So what can the masters of the male sporting domain – the Bubble Boys and their menagerie of minders, managers, meddlers and malingerers learn from Australia’s No 1 ball-playing Bubble Girl?

If there’s a female sporting bubble that most resembles the male football equivalent, it’s netball, and Geitz is at the centre of the netball universe. So huge is her profile and popularity within the sport, some of netball’s senior officials privately fear Geitz now stands taller than the game itself.

So what can the masters of the male sporting domain – the Bubble Boys and their menagerie of minders, managers, meddlers and malingerers learn from Australia’s No 1 ball-playing Bubble Girl?

A few things spring to mind.

Let’s start with balance – the merit of “multi-tasking”. Through sheer financial necessity, practically all our top netballers have a job or a career outside their sport. In between training, playing and fulfilling sponsor obligations, Geitz runs her own on-line, sports-centric fashion label. No time to dwell on wins or losses, or sit around playing Xbox. There’s the Netball Factory to run.

Secondly, humility. Some of our top male athletes are very humble. Others are not. They couldn’t spell humbil, let alone explain what it means. Our top female athletes, almost without exception are very humble. And respectful. Perhaps because they’re not exposed to the same adulation, the same impressive salaries or inflated sense of self importance. They just play because they love it. They get paid a bit. They’d get paid more if the game’s administration was more forward thinking. But it’s not. So why bitch and moan? They’re still having a great time.

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Australian Diamonds & Firebirds captain Laura Geitz

But the most important insight our Bubble Boys (or for that matter, any elite performer) can learn from Laura Geitz is not to take yourself too seriously.

Take what you do seriously? Absolutely.  Take that very seriously. But yourself?  Nup. That just gets in the way of connecting with people. Of relating.  Of rallying the troops in an authentic manner.

Perhaps it was growing up on a farm, a raw, rural upbringing, surrounded by real people doing real work. Perhaps it was her teenage years. Aged 13, Geitz was already 6ft 2 tall – 189cm, with a fringe and braces. She was so self conscious at school, she stood on the side of her feet, ankles rolled outwards, to avoid another few centimetres of shoe-sole elevation. LG –  Little Giraffe. Plenty of laughing going on behind her back. Maybe the easiest thing to do was join in?

Whatever the mouldings, she’s in pretty good shape now. Geitz is the master of self deprecation. However embarrassing your story about Laura, she’s got two better ones tucked away in her bib.

Whether by accident or design, that same sense of self derision now permeates through the national netball squad.  To fit in, you have to be able to laugh at yourself. On a recent trip to New Zealand, for instance, there was a team dinner. Everybody had to meet in the foyer in an outfit that had been bought on a budget of $5. The more ridiculous the fashion statement, the better.

Drawing a bow back to our Bubble Boys, it’s hard to imagine the current Australian cricket team kitted out like that. Boof? Maybe. But Watto, Pup, the newly man-scaped Davey Warner?  Not so sure.

Perhaps it’s because everybody has to be so damn careful these days. There are brands to be built, images to uphold, paradigms of virtue to promote and protect. Go out wearing a safari suit, or a pair of 70s flares and a bright red gloweave shirt, unbuttoned to the waist, and you’re putting it all on the line. All you need is some nuf-nuf to snap you on his phone, post it on Facebook and all over red rover. The safari suit goes viral. Social media goes into melt down. There’s accusations of arrogance. Athletes taking for granted the privilege of representing their country.  Not respecting the traditions of the baggy green. Ridiculing those less fortunate. Demands for counselling sessions. Sponsors threatening to walk … I think you get the picture…

However complicated living inside the sporting bubble has become, one thing remains clear. Nothing dilutes the appeal and power of self satire. We readily relate to those who take what they do seriously, but are still willing to have a laugh at their own expense.

Laura Geitz, and her hobo band of multi-tasking, fun-loving, part-time professionals, running around Rotorua in their $5 dress-ups – they’re onto something. How many international matches have they won on the trot? Is it 50?

With all due respect to political correctness, and the pedlars of the “Person Christmas” campaign,  there’s another very simple reason why so few female athletes featured in Bubble Boys.

They don’t live in a bubble.

 

 

Republished with permission from Michael Blucher‘s site The Whistle

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