Posted by Ian Bentley on Sep 12, 2018
Guest speaker this week, ex-Hawthorn footballer Ray Wilson, played in the 1971 grand final; described by many as the toughest match ever played. Vicious and head-high tackles frequently brought the runners to the ground to help players back to their feet. While the on-field play appears barbaric by today’s standards his comments about old fashioned sportsmanship and humanity off the field struck a chord and are worth reflecting upon. 
 
Over the last four decades, a profusion of new rules and the introduction of more umpires has only partly made the game safer, as injury lists remain long. The rules have not made the game cleaner, as players cunningly manipulate the rules to their advantage. Ray highlighted a post-match address by Hawthorn coach John Kennedy in which he urged his victorious team to think compassionately of their twenty defeated despondent opponents in the adjacent dressing room; demonstrating humanity rarely seen today. Kennedy’s words were contrasted with a particularly unsportsmanlike comment made by a coach in more recent times.
 
If we transition to today’s society more generally we find that institutions that could once be relied upon to act with integrity and trust are now prone to callous and dishonest behaviour.  The Hayne Royal Commission has highlighted that neither rules nor umpires guarantee ethical behaviour or concern for clients; particularly the vulnerable.
 
If rules and umpires are failing us, perhaps we should again cultivate an emphasis on moral principles, such as that expressed by Paul Harris in this comment “The best way to win the esteem of others is by observing the simple rules of decency. If they won’t accomplish the desired result, nothing will.” (Paul Harris, This Rotarian Age, page 62)  Furthermore, the application of Rotary’s 70-year-old four-way test continues to be relevant in business, sport and general dealings with others.
 
1.    Is it the truth?
2.    Is it fair to all concerned?
3.    Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4.    Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
 
We would all do well to keep these principles forefront in our minds.
 
Ian Bentley
President
Rotary Club of Hawthorn