Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek fixture with Dylan Cleaver: Yes, Danny Lee is a New Zealander

By Dylan Cleaver

Danny Lee competing at the Masters. Photo / AP
Danny Lee competing at the Masters. Photo / AP

If one thing struck home to me during the endless and enervating flag debates, it was that the concept of nationhood has become quite fluid.

To quickly recap my position, for what it's worth. I started off as a gung-ho flag-change advocate. The idea that we could free ourselves of the Union Jack was exciting. After the process didn't play out exactly how I wanted, I made the entirely selfish decision to abstain (in other words, I became a classic example of why these sorts of decisions should never be put to public referenda).

Anyway, I started revisiting this idea of a fluid nationhood when I heard someone ask why we, the media, were bothering to cover Danny Lee at the Masters because he wasn't a real New Zealander.

Which made we wonder, what the hell exactly is a real New Zealander, because the last time I looked Lee was proudly competing under a flag that 43.27 per cent of us wanted to change?

Lee emigrated to New Zealand from Korea when he was eight. He went to school at Rotorua Boys' High, he became a naturalised New Zealander as an 18-year-old in 2008. Yes, he lives in Texas now but we can forgive him that surely as he plays for 10 months of the year on the US-based PGA Tour.

So who is more New Zealandish - Lee, who spent the bulk of his formative years here or, say, Luke Ronchi, who moved from Dannevirke to Perth as a small child and then returned to New Zealand aged 29 only when his path to the Australian national cricket team was seemingly blocked?

That is not to say Ronchi does not warrant being wrapped in the warm embrace of a silver fern either, but I've rarely, if ever, heard Ronchi's Kiwi credentials questioned, which makes you wonder if some of us make our judgements based on looks.

If you wanted to make a list of all the people who have proudly represented this country while being born elsewhere, you'd need a while to compile it, but off the top of my head it could include: Scott Dixon, Andy Durante, Nathan Fien and Steve Devine (Australia), Precious McKenzie, BJ Watling, Irene van Dyk and Andrew Mehrtens (South Africa), Li and Karen Chunli (China), Jerry Collins, David Tua and April Ieremia (Samoa), Jerome Kaino (American Samoa), Joe Rokocoko (Fiji), Sammy Guillen (Trinidad), Ish Sodhi (India), Gus Nketia (Ghana), Dave Gallaher (Ireland), Dipak Patel (Kenya), John Gallagher, Bobby Almond and Norman Read (England), Casey Frank (USA), Colin de Grandhomme (Zimbabwe), Thur Borren (Netherlands) and Lydia Ko (Korea).

That's obviously just scratching the surface, but there's a nice little United Nations sporting conference going on there and the reasons for their arrivals here would be myriad, from employment and education opportunities, to seeking a better life, to out-and-out just wanting to play international sport.

It works the other way, too. We've given English cricket Andrew Caddick and Ben Stokes when, to be honest, we could have used them. Seeing 'Aussie Jim' Tamou in a Kangaroos jumper is a scratch that is only just healing. One of our greatest batsmen, Martin Donnelly, played a rugby test for England. And, of course, where would Welsh rugby be if it wasn't for Shane Howarth?

In the 2013 census, just 65,973 people identified themselves as New Zealanders, yet approximately 2.7 million of us consider ourselves New Zealand Europeans, so the vast majority of us that aren't indigenous, recognise that we or our forefathers and mothers ended up here from somewhere else.

For me, the test of nationality is really quite simple. If they live or have lived in New Zealand and want to represent New Zealand, then that's good enough for me.

Now if only we could find them a decent flag to wrap around their shoulders.

**

While we're on the subject of nationality, is there anyone quite as opportunistic as Kevin Pietersen. He has recently come out and said he is considering making himself available for South Africa, the country of his birth, which he left in a huff when he disapproved of the reintegrated country's rather delicate selection policies.

He enjoyed a mainly terrific career for his adopted England, but butchered the final act with some momentously bad behaviour, including white-anting the captain Andrew Strauss (also, curiously, South African born).

With no way back in, Pietersen is turning back to his birth country, but he might not find the welcome mat out, judging by this wonderful quote from Faf du Plessis: "Certainly, from a South African perspective... he's English," he said.

**

The sad news that three of England's 1966 World Cup-winning football squad are suffering with Alzheimer's and another has dementia symptoms has highlighted the fact that even mild head knocks could cause lasting damage.

The three men - Ray Wilson, Martin Peters and the wonderfully named Nobby Stiles, were diagnosed in their 60s and it is feared the constant heading of heavy leather balls played a part.

US Soccer banned children under 10 heading the ball in response to the fears.

This next generation of sporting stars are in many ways the lucky ones. Helmets are quickly becoming compulsory as soon as kids advance to hard-ball cricket, even though they have far more chance being hit in the head by their own top edges than they do by a bouncer until they get to their mid-teens.

There is a growing realisation in most sports that the head is sacrosanct and no good comes of knocking it around, even lightly.

Now, about boxing...

GIVE 'EM A TASTE OF KIWI ...

It occurred to me at the conclusion of the World T20 that Nathan McCullum was not afforded the same deferential send-off his pup of a brother was, so here goes. A tribute video that erroneously is credited to his brother. He can't win.

SPORTS SHAREMARKET

I'm buying... Jordan Spieth

He'll be haunted for a few days by his 5-5-7, six-over collapse on holes 10 through 12 at the Masters, but he is no Greg Norman. The guy is 22 and what was more instructive was the way he made a run following his gruesome 7 on the par-3 12th and they way he handled himself afterwards. I'm buying Spieth at this slightly discounted price, though I'm less keen on the coverage of the Masters. Spieth's collapse was a fascinating study in human fallibility but there was actually another fella who won the tournament, though you'd have barely known it. Danny Willett was his name, if I recall.

I'm selling... Trevor Story

If you're not following the Story story, you should. The rookie shortstop hit seven home runs in his first six games as a big league baseballer, which puts him on pace to hit around 200 for the year. It's ridiculous and it won't last, so I'm selling, but it was a good Story while it lasted.

I'M READING ...

A fascinating story about cheating in age-group ironman triathlons.

MY LAST $10

I live to fight a few more weeks after a few wobbly moments as a three-headed multi came in. In my self-imposed rules, as soon as I bust a $60 deficit between collect and spend, it's over.

Last week: The Hurricanes beat a rapidly fading Jaguares halftime/ fulltime double, and the Swans and the Kangaroos to beat GWS and Melbourne respectively in the AFL. That boost the coffers with a $28 gross.

This week: Another three-headed multi with red-hot favourites. I've got Hawthorn to beat St kilda in the AFL, Brisbane to be leading Newcastle at half and fulltime in the rugby and Brisbane to be doing likewise to Newcastle in the NRL. Easy St here we come, courtesy of this $19.20 collect.

Total spent: $100 Total collected: $67.35

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