You’re not that guy pal, trust me: politicians and sports

The sporting field is home to many of Australian politicians’ greatest gaffes. Yet they keep coming back—why?


In 2005, John Howard bowled three shockers to troops in Pakistan, none reaching the batsman. Eight years later, we watched Kevin Rudd struggle to do a chin up without the assistance of a personal trainer. Malcolm Turnbull gave basketball a go in 2017, missing the shot from right under the hoop. However it is Scott Morrison, aka ‘the bulldozer,’ who tops it off with his mid-Election tackling of a child during a Tasmanian soccer match.

The sporting field is home to many of Australian politicians’ greatest gaffes. Yet they keep coming back—why?

Surprisingly it’s not for comic relief, despite being its only achievement. Crafting a relatable public persona now overshadows any substantial policy discussions because who wants that? It’s all catchphrases and photo-ops. And what better way to present themselves as genuine Australian larrikins than being seen marching onto the field?

But rather than gain credibility through humanising themselves, they only alienate themselves from the public more. Their collared dress shirts, ties, and slacks stick out like a sore thumb. Although, an honourable mention was when Anthony Albanese donned a full Western Walers footy kit in the 2019 Sydney Community Cup—yet I still winced. My second-hand embarrassment has been unbearable as I watched these out of place white middle-aged men with poor hand-eye coordination.

I get the whole giving it a ‘fair go’ schtick and maybe it does say something about their willingness to be vulnerable, showing that they too can get up and try again as they so often tell us. I also suppose that if they showed any physical expertise it might gain some respect from those who detach themselves from the dryness of politics. In some crazy world it might just be that Tony Abbott’s morning speedo swims resonated with a middle-aged Australian that ‘doesn’t care too much for politics’. But I can’t help feeling queasy and disillusioned at seeing these staged stunts.

Such failed PR missions stand no chance in improving politicians’ images against the backdrop of their incompetencies. Scott Morrison playing soccer with kids did not in any way soften the blow of his disastrous leadership. The idea that it would do so further reinforces the disconnect between us and our representatives. We saw it for what it is. Yet another moment of awkwardness from the man who forces people to shake his hand.

Perhaps I’m just mad that politicians are not only ruining my future, but also my love of sports.

To all the pollies, stick to what you know best—or at least claim to.


This piece was submitted to Farrago as an opinion piece. Image from

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