Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Let’s Get Hammered

Those are the words used by Kieran Perkins to describe the culture of binge drinking which he says exists within Australian Swimming. While the general public sees a squad of elite athletes who represent the pinnacle of health and fitness, the truth is that they are all human too. Kieran Perkins points out that the swimmers, like other athletes, train very hard and are very disciplined, but when the rare opportunity arises for the team to celebrate there is a tendency to binge.

Mr. Perkins has also confessed to his own foolish prank during the 1994 Commonwealth Games involving an air pistol. He says he is very lucky he was not sent home as a result of the incident, and that if the same thing happened now, he would not get away with it. His point is that the situation now confronting Australian Swimming involving criminal charges against Nick D’Arcy seems to have arisen from that culture of drinking.

Whether it is coincidence or synchronicity, this controversy has arisen against the backdrop of the Prime Minister’s heavily publicized plan to combat binge drinking, especially among teenagers. It serves as a clear lesson in the dangers of alcohol fuelled violence arising from circumstances that begin as innocent celebrations.

Kieran Perkins is adamant that what he calls “tomfoolery” in the past is poles apart from the criminal matters now being discussed, and he’s right. But ultimately it seems to be a question of the power of alcohol to undermine or even destroy the power of good judgement, especially when it seems to be the accepted culture to celebrate any good fortune by “getting hammered”.

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