I have a solution to the latest crisis engulfing the Australian Labour Party. It will avoid the rancour and retribution currently on show and which apparently will be settled today. As with any solution worth its salt it has evolved from our first and abiding love… sport. As the various winter codes beat their chests and dive headlong into their seasons, a curious phenomenon has emerged. I say emerged but in truth it started its seductive invasion a while ago and is now engulfing sport, male and female, big and small. Who knows it may even have hit you at your local club. It is this weird concept of the ‘leadership group’. In the olden days a simple © beside a name in a team list sufficed. It signified authority, respect and leadership – this person was the captain, trusted and wizened and able to make unilateral, on field decisions for the good of the team. But the professionalised and commercialised world that sport now inhabits it is apparently no longer enough. AFL, ever at the forefront started it via their embracing of a ‘player empowerment leadership model’. Consequently St Kilda have eight players inhabiting their leadership group and the Sydney Swans recently announced the addition of two players, Ted Richards and Nick Smith to theirs. Ok I can cop, except for the fact that the group already had seven in it and now numbers nine! South Sydney, hardly seen as paragons of modern organisational theory have installed Michael Crocker, Roy Asotasi, Sam Burgess, Matt King and John Sutton to lead the Rabbitohs this year as (and I quote their website) “part of a leadership group which is charged with captaining the side week-in and week-out”. Part of the leadership group! Heavens above! Even in netball where there are only seven positions on court at any one time the Swifts have anointed Australian Diamond reps Mo’onia Gerrard and Kimberlee Green as co captains. So with sport showing us the path to true enlightenment I give you Gillard and Rudd as co captains! No wait, while we are at let’s throw in Wilkie, Oakeshott, Windsor and yes Therese too! You wouldn’t do it would you? So why do we do it in sport?
This post appeared originally as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on February 27th