Hero or villian, it just depends on your perspective

SPORT would be nothing without its heroes and villains.

But when one fan's hero is another's villain - it is purely a matter of perspective.

Most of our sporting heroes and villains are just normal people with exceptional attributes, which makes them exceptional sports people, which makes them of interest to the public.

And to make them even more interesting, media simplifies their attributes and weaknesses to turn them into either heroes or villains, ignoring the fact they are ordinary people like us, thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

Brendon McCullum is a cricketing hero to many for several reasons.

One - because of his amazing and entertaining batting ability; and two - because of his sportsmanship.

McCullum has also had a good run of success as captain of New Zealand, with one exception - he can't beat Australia.

He will forever be remembered as one of the nicest guys, who got an average cricket team playing above themselves for a while.

Were he a New Zealand rugby player or an Australian cricket captain he would be judged very differently - as a failure, if not a villain.

But such are the expectations of New Zealand cricket that he is hero - it just depends on your perspective.

Sam Burgess meanwhile, leaves English rugby as a villain.

He was promoted to the England side prematurely and did okay.

But he was never going to be a big hit until he had at least a couple of years experience in the 15-man game.

It wasn't his form that marked him as a villain, rather his decision to walk away from the sport - much as Sonny Bill Williams, when he left the Bulldogs and the NRL.

Williams is now a hero after starring for the All Blacks and handing over his World Cup winners medal to a kid.

Burgess has chosen to retreat to his comfort zone, if you could ever call the front row in the NRL comfortable.

He claims he was fighting a losing battle because of an "agenda" from people outside the England camp.

Burgess should have known however, that anyone who comments on him, or English Rugby, or any sport, does it with an agenda.

It was why he is considered a hero for playing a rugby league grand final with a broken cheek bone. It works both ways and if you are happy to take it one way, you can't complain when the other smacks you in the face.

Brendon McCullum knows this.

Perhaps ever since Chris Cairns (once hero, now villain) allegedly tried to get him involved in match fixing he has decided he would be cricket's nicest guy.

But while he is busy earning plaudits for how nice he is in losing causes, Australia is busy trying to be the best cricket team in the world.

It will make them heroes in the eyes of some. To others, Australia's aggressive, sledging approach will ensure they remain sporting villains.

Colin Meads was, until recently considered the greatest All Black of all time - a national hero.

The Kiwis were not put off by the fact that he ended the career of Australian halfback Ken Catchpole with a deliberate act of foul play.

It all comes back to perspective.



Jay Buchan

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