Author(s): Michael Blucher
We love our sport in Australia - almost as much as we love voicing our opinions about sport. The right and the wrong, the good and the bad, the weak and the strong.But over the past decade, there has been a significant change in the relationship dynamic between our sporting heroes and the ticket paying public.The unbridled admiration of yesteryear has been gradually displaced by a growing level of cynicism, The perception of inflated salaries, coupled with less than perfect behavior, played out under the glare of the 24-hour media and internet spotlight, has to some extent eroded the purity of the sporting contest and the standing of the people who play or perform at the elite level.But where does the truth lie? Are the undesirable (at times illegal) actions of a very small minority simply tarnishing the reputation and standing of the vast majority? On the whole - who are our elite athletes? Arrogant, overindulged, over paid brats, living the dream, or hard working, gifted professionals, worthy of our respect, and the very good money they earn, albeit for a defined period? Are the perceptions of misbehavior a media driven phenomenon, with little substance?
Or is the reported behavior of professional athletes simply a reflection of what is going on in the broader community? The purpose of Bubble Boys is to better understand the "lot" of the professional sportsman. To take an in depth look into the trappings, the pressures, the responsibilities and of course the scrutiny - the fact from the first bounce or bowl of the ball, the first drive or first serve, our sportsman hand over their lives and virtually become public property. It examines in detail the relationships they share with their many and varied stakeholders, starting with the paying public, but extending through to the administrators, the media, the corporate community, their peers (including the former greats), but most critically, their inner circle - the people they rely upon for direction and advice. Just how hard is it to have that many masters? Bubble Boys also explores the views and contributions of those on the periphery - the coaches, the career welfare managers, the player agents, the player associations, the corporate supporters, the media commentators, and of course their increasingly visible, increasingly voluble wives and girlfriends.
Finally, there is a section devoted to solutions - the skills, techniques and strategies that can help today's professional athletes survive and thrive in this glare of the public spotlight, to build a "brand" likely to win the hearts and minds of the sporting public. Along the way, we defer to the "good guys" of Australian sport - those who have excelled at the highest level for an extended period without any compromise to their accessibility, approachability or humility. Readers will draw their own conclusions, but it is not in the charter of the book to name and shame, There are countless anecdotes where specific detail has been deliberately removed, or descriptions left broad, so as to protect the identity of the central figures. But in the overall context of the book, it's not the "who" that is important - it's the what and the why - the reason and rationale behind the behavior. Hopefully, by the time the final page has been turned, there will be some new perspective. And the realization that like life itself, nothing is ever quite as good or quite as bad as it seems.