Eva Bradley: What is your price point?

By Eva Bradley

Eva Bradley
Eva Bradley

WHAT IS your price point? It's a question many of us may be asking ourselves at a dark time in New Zealand's sporting history when it seems even heroes have limits.
Without wanting to labour on about the issue that has dominated headlines recently, it has to be said we are a nation that puts people who can swing a bat or throw a ball up on a pedestal in a way few others do. That, of course, can make for some fairly spectacular falls.
Although sportiness is next to godliness Down Under, the reality is that top athletes are human just like the rest of us. Just because you can run faster than the next guy does not mean you are morally better than him, although that generally seems to be our expectation of professional sports players these days - especially those who enjoy a beer or two. Or three, or four.
While we love following the political intrigue of John Banks vs. Dotcom and enjoy speculating on whether or not money changed hands in an honourable and legal way, we are not overly shocked by the issue of corruption among politicians. To a certain extent, we might almost expect it of them.
But sportsmen? Not on your nelly.
Somehow, because of their ability to represent us on the playing field, we imbue them with an almost spiritual quality, and any alleged ethical violations they then make can cut to the core of what it means to be a Kiwi.
I'll be as disappointed as the next guy if the allegations of match fixing by New Zealand cricketers turn out to be true. It's just not the Kiwi way.
But I'm also a realist and wonder just how much money it might take to prompt me to drop a ball (were I ever able to catch one in the first place).
I've done some pretty awful things for money.

As a teenager I got paid minimum wage to dress up like a dork and walk around the streets trying to get newspaper subscriptions.
To supplement my student loan, I drove a dodgy scooter all over rain-ravaged Wellington to clean houses for $10 an hour on Saturdays, while in the evenings in a bid to save a buck, I let businessmen in suits bore me to tears at the bar for the price of a drink. Once I even told mum where my brother hid his soft porn collection because I knew I'd get extra pocket money as a reward.
They were all small sacrifices for small change. No major moral boundaries crossed, no real forfeit required.
But if the stakes were raised to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, what would I (as a person who values ethics above most other things) have been prepared to do?
Like most regular people, it is unlikely I'll ever be in a position to know, but I was shocked when I heard a radio DJ admit he'd drop the ball and pretty much anything else if the price were right.
Was he morally bankrupt? Or was he just being honest? And human?
Is there a Player X inside us all who we remain unaware of just because we've never had the opportunity to be introduced?
If you'd asked me a week ago if I thought it possible that top New Zealand sportsmen could be tempted to let down the side and their country to make a buck, I would have denied it emphatically.
Now it seems a high probability, and something that makes me re-evaluate the esteem in which I once held all of our athletes - or maybe just the height of the pedestal we (perhaps unfairly) put them on.
#Eva Bradley is an award- winning columnist.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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