Mike Hosking: Why Israel Adesanya's speech shouldn't have been a big deal

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 Feb 2020, 3:39PM
Israel Adesanya won sportsman of the year at the Halberg Awards. (Photo / Photosport)

Mike Hosking: Why Israel Adesanya's speech shouldn't have been a big deal

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 Feb 2020, 3:39PM

You know the real sadness of the Israel Adesanya message last week at the Halbergs? It was the way we reacted to it.

It was fantastically reassuring to me given my current overarching worry for this country is we have slipped into a funk, a malaise of mediocrity driven largely by our government, our leaders, who have refocused their efforts and our attention on all that is wrong with us.

The lack of delivery, the lack of dynamism in our economy, the obsession with welfare and social ill, dominates news headlines and debate.  Social media is riddled with woe worry and angst.

It’s been going on now for over two years, and like all things that settle in over time, you don’t even know you’re being poisoned.

And then along comes Adesanya and says something that appears revolutionary and exceptional and we go nuts. What he said was brilliant, it was well put, made an excellent point and was delivered with real flair and style.

But it wasn’t the Gettysburg address, it was an athlete saying ‘be positive, when I win you win, don’t bring us down, don’t be negative’.

It was a speech not that long ago that, A, would not have needed saying, and B, if it was, would have been greeted with a ‘hear hear’.

Now there an outpouring of ‘that’s the greatest speech I’ve ever heard'. It wasn’t the greatest speech you’ve ever heard. It’s the greatest speech in the past couple of years ever since we have been put to sleep in a smoky haze of mediocrity.

The beauty of being an international athlete is you spend a lot of time off shore, in a big wide world where a place like New Zealand is not as relevant as we would want to believe. And your surrounded by other people who believe in themselves and strive and have sacrificed to win and achieve.

The reason Israel says what he says is the contrast of his world is too vast. To win in the Octagon requires a level of self-belief few of us can grasp, along with the obvious physical aspects.

He returns to New Zealand to hear bitching about his sport.

The woke, worried about the violence, the overarching view that winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the “participating is what really counts” brigade, the re-organisation of elite sport into “every ones a winner” get-togethers, as opposed to contests where winners are lauded and applauded.

The world in which increasing numbers of us spend our days angsting about me too or gender issues or race issues or PC issues about offending each other, about being snowflakes, about dreaming of a four day week, basically about everything that he isn’t.

Where once we lapped his sort up on a daily basis, these days for too many he’s a freak who needs to remind us what we’ve lost or forgotten or given away.

He gave us a massive verbal upper cut, that positivity is a natural state of mind if you choose it, that winning is cool if you chase it, that hard work and success is there all day every day, if only we refocused a bit away from the worthy boring tragic and dour, and got back to what we were naturally not that long ago.