I am very pleased to see some sort of rear-guard action from the hockey players who don't think Mark Hagar is an ogre.

If you have missed things to this point, Hagar, who as far as I can tell has been a very successful coach of the women's hockey team, sent out an email accidentally to all the players with criticism of some of their attitudes and actions.

This led to upset and complaint, so much so that an investigation has been announced.

Ironically, it comes at a time where other sports seem to be suffering similar sorts of issues, from cycling, to rowing, to football.


Everyone appears to not like the way things are run.

I have refrained from saying anything due to the fact I am merely a hockey fan not an insider, but there was always a sneaking suspicion, watching the complaints of the aggrieved, that there just might be a little bit of personal softness driving the overall upset.

The letter that Hagar wrote, as far as I can tell, didn't say anything a coach wouldn't ordinarily say at practice. It talked of a lack of toughness with heat, and pain, and fitness.

So it is with much relief we hear today from former players who have penned an open letter in defence of the coach.

Yes, he's hard. Yes he's demanding. But guess what?

This is elite sport and that's what separates the winners from the losers.

And if you're looking at the record of the team, you'd be hard-pressed to argue they're not a well-honed, drilled and successful side.

So then the big question is, are all the sports with similar issues suffering a similar malaise? They don't like hard-arse coaching? They find it hard to be held accountable? And maybe yelled at a bit occasionally?


Has the disease of angst-wringing PCism, that the rest of us have to deal with these days, crept its way into elite sport? And athletes now want hand-holding sessions and support groups instead of advice on how to win?

Has the attitude we heard yesterday, whereby cross country is now optional so the poor kid who can't run properly doesn't end up in tears, found its way to the highest level of sport?

Can athletes, who don't like the way they are made to feel, get to burst into tears, and go complain to the media, and spark inquires?

Because if that is what is happening, start preparing yourself to stop being internationally successful at sport?

Elite sport is hard. And the gap between winning and losing is mental, not physical.

And if our mental fragility has imploded and stray e-mails lead to inquiries and calls for change, the only change we'll see is a scoreboard full of losses.