Assumptions about sport over the years in New Zealand, especially about rugby, could border on the simplistic.
So trying to stop contact with South Africa in the apartheid era was, for some Kiwis, bad, because it was mixing politics with sport. But for the people supporting that contact, bending to the will of white South African leaders and not allowing Māori players to join their mates in All Black sides touring there, was apparently not political, so quite okay. I'm with Sir Fred Allen, the captain of the 1949 All Blacks in South Africa, who before he died in 2012 told me, "we should have told them (South Africa) to get stuffed".
One of the most self-serving clichés used in the past by people in praise of sport is now rebounding and being used to criticise today's attitudes in All Blacks rugby.
"We have used the idea of sport builds character, so there is an explicit assumption in that statement that we're building moral character," says Tania Cassidy, the co-author of a paper critical of the role of character in talent identification and development in New Zealand Rugby.
Which would be fine except for the fact the original premise that "sport builds character" is nonsense.
Sport, at the highest level, which is what the Otago study assesses, doesn't build character any more than working as a brain surgeon or digging ditches does. You could be very good at either, and still be a deeply flawed human being.
Tiger Woods was an arrogant serial philanderer, with a silky smooth ability to lie, which didn't stop him being almost god-like on a golf course. Let's not even go near the OJ Simpson story.
So how, if at all, does elite sport relate to character? As someone who over five decades has interviewed dozens and dozens of sports people, from George Nepia to Susan Devoy to Peter Snell to Sam Cane, and written biographies with 11 sports stars, I can vouch for the fact that while sport may not develop character, it does reveal character, and allow some a chance to express it.
Dame Valerie Adams is a decent, caring person but I doubt the gentle, kindly side of her nature was developed while heaving weights and throwing shot puts. The warmth and thoughtfulness came, it was clear when we worked on her 2012 book, from her mother, and an upbringing where family was paramount.
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As she astutely noted on air on Newstalk ZB this week , if she applied herself so rigorously to a team sport, like the basketball she played as a child, it might not have suited her. She could have become hugely frustrated if everyone else in a squad didn't take it as seriously as she would.
I've never known a better person in sport than Dame Valerie, but she would have been that if she'd never picked up a shot.
Sport, for the highly talented, can also offer a pathway to a better life that might otherwise be denied. The tales of help given to families by professional athletes are countless.
Then there's redemption through sport, which is in the spotlight with the naming of Sevu Reece in the All Black squad.
A year ago he was without a professional contract, a promising public career in shreds because of unconscionable private behaviour, a violent attack on his partner.
Whether he is deserving of a second chance probably reflects a much broader issue about justice, crime and punishment in general.
Forget Reece himself, would society at large be better off with him possibly unemployed, or with him in gainful employment, which also happens to be in a very high-profile field?
I can understand the punitive mindset that says he shouldn't be given the honour of national representation so soon, but when is the right time to allow him fully back into the sporting life? Two years, three years, a decade?
A rugby player usually has around six years at the peak of a career, so a two-year stand down, for example, is actually the equivalent of about a decade in the working life of a lawyer or a teacher.
In court in Hamilton last October Judge Denise Clark said she would discharge Reece without conviction because he had taken responsibility for the offending, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, was three months sober, had participated in restorative justice, and was undergoing counselling with his partner. Judge Clark had all the facts before her and decided to give Reece another chance. If he continues to behave in a decent way, I'm hard-pressed to know why he shouldn't be allowed it.
On an infinitely less serious matter, before the Blacks Caps pulled off their astonishing victory over India, a concern I thought had gone the way of glass milk bottles, whether wives and girlfriends should be allowed to tour with national sports teams, reared its cobwebbed head again.
Once All Black wives and partners were not even tolerated, just ignored. Last year, in a brilliant essay, Linda Burgess, whose husband Robert was an All Black first-five, wrote of what happened to her and a group of players' wives after a 1972 All Black game in Palmerston North. "There's an aftermatch function: men only. There's nowhere for us to go. I approach the door. I say, I have some wives of the All Black team with me, and we would like to come in. Through the comforting cloud of cigarette smoke, I can see the players drinking beer, and the officials drinking sterner stuff. The man from the rugby union is resolute. If he lets us in, the floodgates will open. But, he says, moist-eyed with magnanimity, if you'd like to help out in the kitchen with the other ladies, you're more than welcome."
Rugby's been dragged, sometimes kicking and screaming it's true, into the 21st century, and it should comfort those who found the sight of wives and partners drinking some wine on a balcony while the Black Caps toiled on the field below, that the All Blacks, by a mile our most successful national professional team, quietly acknowledge that having wives and partners on tour, far from exhausting or distracting delicately tuned athletes, actually helps them perform better.
As All Black manager Darren Shand once said to me, "if a guy does nothing but think rugby 24/7 he's going to burn out pretty quickly".
At the 2015 Rugby World Cup, wives and partners arrived in the week before the quarter-final against France in Cardiff. The lift in mood during the week was, team officials say, very obvious. And the proof came in the match, when a revitalised team thrashed France, 62-13.
The Black Caps, starting to slump on the field before the semifinals, provided the best possible answer to the critics of women and children daring to be part of the players' lives with their display against India.
Kyle Mills, a member of the 2015 Black Caps World Cup side, made a key point to Simon Barnett and myself when the disapproval was rising before the semifinal. "You know," said Mills, "nobody was complaining about wives and girlfriends when we were winning at the start of the tournament".