The Hack: Sarcasm and serious athletes

It’s been the long held belief, helped by Oscar Wilde’s assertion, that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. But, as I always respond when someone tells me the same thing, it is the highest form of intelligence.

In the aftermath of Wayde van Niekerk’s fantastic win in the 400m at the World Championships in Beijing I tweeted something to the effect that the gold medallist would be happy with the way the Rand is performing against the Dollar given that he’d just bagged $60 000 for first place.

Not bad for 40-odd seconds of work, I added. I am typically a sarcastic person.

It didn’t take long for someone to remind me about the fact that I was wrong. It’s an every day thing on social media after all isn’t it? I was told that it was days of hard work and dedication.

I had to remind this person that I was being sarcastic.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise how hard it is to pursue a career as a professional athlete. It doesn’t matter what the discipline in question is, each and every sportsman and woman who earns a living by utilising their talents deserves bundles of respect.

That Van Niekerk needed a stretcher to help him off the track after running the 400m race of his life only embodies that principle. He put his body on the line to prove he was the best in the world.

I often need reminders from my medical-aid scheme that my gym benefit is going to be increased due to a failure to meet the minimum number of visits needed per month.

Wait, what? You mean there is a system in place that rewards a person for keeping themselves fit and active and yet people still can’t find the time to go past the gym and get a workout in.

Just last week I witnessed someone walk up to the counter, have their card swiped and then promptly turned around and walked through the exit turnstile. Surely there’s a sense of guilt that comes with that?

But the professionals don’t have that option, at least not in the pursuit of excellence and it always comes as a massive surprise when you hear of missed sessions.

That the Proteas opted to skip their pre-match practice on the eve of the final one day international against New Zealand raised a couple of eyebrows, especially after losing in the match before.

But it proved to be a stroke of genius and allowed them to re-energise and just spend some time together as a team away from the pressures of cricket. It worked.

Too often we forget that these professionals are people too. Living breathing things that also feel pain, have feelings and possess a sense of humour. Well, most of them. Like us regular Joes there are also those who don’t get it.

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