One of the infamous photos. Picture: Toby Zerna
One of the infamous photos. Picture: Toby Zerna

One lot you can trust on Mad Monday

REMEMBER the time the women's netball team got so hammered at their end-of-season party that some of them got nude on a pub balcony, vomited all over the pavement, some had their photos on the front page of the paper and a couple of them were charged by police?

Remember that party? Nah, I don't either.

What about all those female national sporting heroes in the headlines for getting too close to a dog, assaulting someone in a nightclub, or belting their partner?

I'm scratching my head over that too.

There are many reasons why female sports stars don't carry on like idiots in their spare time. Maybe, in general, they have more class, dignity, foresight, intelligence and self respect than some of their male counterparts.

But I'll give you at least one more reason. They can't afford to carry on like idiots.

For many female sport stars, there is no Mad Monday. The Monday after the season ends is the day they have to go back to their real job. Paid a fraction of what the boys are, many female stars don't have the luxury of kicking up their heels, or in this case, their footy boots.

The Women's NRL Premiership kicks off this weekend, but one recruit to the competition has said she's had to take seven weeks of leave from her job as a legal assistant, just to play.

"Luckily I've got some savings as well and the Dragons have helped me find a job at a local cafe," Annette Brander told the Illawarra Mercury.

Her story is one familiar to many women in professional sport across Australia. That $250,000 fine the Bulldogs were given? I have a few ideas for how the NRL can spend it.

Not least of them would be giving players like Brander more of a helping hand for the huge role they're playing in growing the image of a sport, that some of their male counterparts seem addicted to tarnishing.

A Canterbury Bulldogs player laying on the ground after falling asleep during Mad Monday celebrations at the Harbour View Hotel at The Rocks. Picture: Christian Gilles
A Canterbury Bulldogs player laying on the ground after falling asleep during Mad Monday celebrations at the Harbour View Hotel at The Rocks. Picture: Christian Gilles

In Australian sport, the boys, it seems, get all the privileges. They get all the money, and all the attention and all the fame and what do they do with it? Well, some just vomit it all over the cement near a pub in The Rocks.

This week, while footballers were on the front page, the back page, and all the web pages, female Aussie sporting stars were doing incredible things, many of which you may not have heard about, amid the fog of boys behaving badly.

At the US Open, Queenslander Ashleigh Barty won the 2018 women's sportsmanship award. She described it as humbling. Her $5000 prize is going to charity.

At the women's Water Polo World Cup, Australia's Stingrays, who've travelled all the way to Russia to compete, beat China in the group round.

Cricket Australia announced 619 new junior girl's teams have been created and that women make up six out of every 10 new cricket participants in Australia now.

And in women's football, it was revealed every game of the W-League will be televised this season, a massive win for women's sport in Australia.

All of those achievements and many more for women in sport, in the last few days alone.

People have differing views about whether sport stars should be role models. My view is more practical: whether they should be or not, for many kids, they just are.

These days, women's sport in Australia is delivering more role models than we have ever seen before.

Take soccer star Sam Kerr. She's only 24 and played her first game for the Matildas at 15. In January she was named Young Australian of the Year.

Sam Kerr is a superstar. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)
Sam Kerr is a superstar. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

When she won the award she made the point that the growth of women's sport is "great for not only the athletes involved, but the young kids growing up with great role models now".

She also said it it's not just young girls looking up to female athletes but young boys too. And so they should. They can learn more from someone like Sam, than they can from a league player with an impending court case.

Around Australia this weekend, young boys and girls are at ovals and fields, playing netball and Auskick, and Little Kickers - and every other type of sport. Those children are looking for heroes to emulate and look up to, in every aspect of their behaviour.

They'd do worse than Sam Kerr. Ellyse Perry. Darcy Vescio. Meg Lanning. Caitlin Bassett. Annette Brander.

The reason they're great role models is not just because they're incredibly talented athletes or because they've kept their images squeaky clean.

It's because in order to make their names, they've had to break stereotypes, glass ceilings, and a lot of the time, break their bank balances too.