TRUE OPINION: What does a couple of professional international sportsmen fighting over a woman’s honour tell us about men in the modern age, muses our columnist Miles Hunt.
David Warner and Quinton de Kock had a little stoush in the first cricket test between South Africa and Australia a couple weeks back. It was very much a school yard type blue with verbal abuse, barbs about wives and the threat of physical violence. Both players were fined for their involvement by the International Cricket Council (ICC). At school they would have been given detentions from the Headmaster.
The best punishment for a school student is to take away their time by keeping them back at school on Friday afternoon writing line after line of repetitive nonsense. It is not the actual lines that matter, but the hours wasted when one could be hanging with friends, skating or just free of the school yard and its rules, regulations and the bells which tells them where to be at every minute of the day. For a professional sportsperson, it appears that money is the best punishment – hitting them where it hurts in the hip pocket – by fining them their hard earned match fees. Perhaps time really is money.
Before I plough further into the money-time continuum, the story goes that as the players walked back onto the ground after a break in play, David Warner, the Australian Vice Captain and opener, told Quinton de Kock, the South African wicket-keeper, what he thought of him – basically that he was much like his name suggested, but spelt slightly differently. This didn’t amuse de Kock very much and he decided to have a go at Warner’s wife, Candice (nee Falzon), referring in a derogatory way to a tryst she had with Sonny Bill Williams in the toilets of the Clovelly Hotel in Sydney’s east over a decade ago. He may have even used the same words as Warner but chose to use it in reference to SBW’s appendage rather than a simple double entendre with his own name. Warner then flew off the handle and rushed back towards de Kock, ready to yell in his face or shove him or punch him – these being the three most likely choices for ‘getting up in another man’s face’ as they say. He was restrained by team mate Tim Payne and eventually walked away with the Captain, still steaming from ear to ear.
All in all, it reminds me very much of the school yard. Having gone to an all boys school, I have a unique understanding of groups of boys and men acting the fool, competing with one another, trading barbs and fighting. Usually it involves name calling and verbal abuse with the potential to escalate things further – one of the lads involved may rush up and push the other, who may in turn throw a punch. The friends of both parties look on eagerly, chanting “Fight, fight, fight,” whilst secretly hoping that it doesn’t escalate into a brawl of which they will be required to participate. Sticking up for a mate is an important part of mateship, so they are there if needed. Its all very man o’ man. The blood bond of friendship more important than the ripped shirt or blood spilled in defending it.
The incident certainly took me back to my old school yard. Funny, or perhaps not so funny, to come from two professional athletes being paid a fortune to represent their countries on the cricket pitch. Both of them are old enough for the school yard to be a distant memory, although for Warner, who is 31 with two children and 6 years older than de Kock, it’s probably a bit foggier. [NOTE: David Warner attended Randwick Boys High School at the same time when True Crime News Weekly publisher, Serkan Ozturk, was there in the early 2000s]
To put it in school terms – Warner would be in Year 12 whilst de Kock was a piddly Year 7, but then, by your mid-twenties age really ceases to be an excuse for anything but drugs, alcohol and attending music festivals.
What motivated these two fine cricketers to act as they did? It is hard to say what started it all, but requires a dissection of each action first and maybe this will lead to a satisfactory answer, or at least more questions, which are always better than answers.
Firstly, Warner’s initial abuse of de Kock. It seems to be fairly simple abuse. Probably not that harmful to a man who grew up with his surname. I know this from the personal experience of having a surname that rhymes with a less-than-pleasant slang term used to describe a part of the female anatomy. They called me Mike, Eric and even Yoric at school, and although at times I cursed my father for passing on the name, at some point it ceased to have any impact. Still, it is probably not an ideal way to start a conversation and suggests something about the frame of mind of the individual passing the comment as much as anything.
When I played cricket, there were passionate players that occasionally over-stepped the mark with their words and deeds. A fast bowler could send off a batsman with a yell and a scream or even some carefully chosen words, although it was the wicket that hurt the batter most. I once got bowled for a duck in a C-grade match. I don’t know what came over me, but as I walked off, I yelled out to the player who’d got me calling him a “fuck-wit”. I sat on the side-line tacking off my pads and continued to hurl abuse his way, much to the chagrin and deep embarrassment of my team mates. A few minutes later, after a couple of swigs of cool refreshing water and with the heat gone from my chest, I realised the failure of my actions. I was deeply ashamed, paced around a while, sat in the corner and eventually came out of hiding at the end of the match to apologise profusely to the bowler I’d abused. Not one of my best moments in life: Regrets I’ve had a few, not too few to mention… and this was certainly one.
The point I am making is that it happens. People make mistakes and say silly things, especially in the heat of battle on the field, on the road or in the home. We are humans and are all flawed, well mostly, I can’t say for certain about Jesus, Mahatma and Nelson but I am sure they had their moments of doubt and pain, and no doubt said a thing or two they regretted in the serenity of hindsight. Perhaps David Warner, upon reflection, realised his words, although moderate in the scale of abuse, were out of line and unnecessary. It may have been better to tell Quinton that he was a good batter, or even asked him a question about his life – ‘How are things going for you?, ‘Are you well’, ‘Good luck today mate’.
Something of that nature, and this whole article would be redundant and everyone would have been a lot better off. Instead he abused de Kock and de Kock responded in kind. Taking things up to 11 by having a go at Warner’s wife and the mother of his children. Basically he implied with some choice words that her sexual dalliance with Sonny-Bill was the behavior of a slut, and that Warner should be ashamed of his wife. This was not the exact wording of the spray, but certainly the implication. And it was disgusting as Warner himself said afterwards.
Why say it? De Kock probably thought it was a good way to get at the notoriously feisty Warner, but it is a strange thing to bring up. Who cares who she slept with in the past, and long before her and David were an item, and whether it was in a toilet or a hotel or in her home. Firstly, there are a lot of people that have had sex in toilets, it’s in the top five most popular use of a public toilet along with peeing, pooping, vomiting and doing lines of cocaine off the back of the toilet seat whilst feeling queasy about the whole operation being so close to unknown fecal matter.
I doubt very much that Sonny-Bill ever cops an abusive spray about his actions that night with Candice Falzon. The boys probably cheer him on, reminding him of his sexual prowess and the brilliance of his conquests with the ladies. And this shows that we treat the act of sex differently for men and women. For men, it is expected even lauded if they are promiscuous, sexually vibrant and out there having fun with their sexual organs, whilst woman are chastised and maligned for the very same choices.
De Kock’s words were repugnant, mean and particularly unnecessary given the stoush was between him and Warner and not between him and Warner’s family. Why mention her at all? Call David Warner a ding-bat or a dickhead or many of the names that may befit him, but leave out his family. It’s good manners in the world of name–calling and verbal abuse. Play the man, not someone else entirely.
Worst of all, it shows the way men and women are treated differently in our society – the way a casual barb can become something else entirely, the way it is perceived as an insult and not a celebration of life and consensual sex.
And this brings us around to Warner’s response, attempting to run back aggressively towards de Kock and do whatever it was that he planned on doing until he was held back by a team mate.
This is classic male behavior – have a go at my mother or wife or partner or child and you have overstepped the mark. He said in a press conference that the comment was ‘disgusting’ and ‘crossed a line’ – what line that may be is anyone’s guess. The Maginot line? David Warner’s obnoxious insult line? Whatever line was crossed, it was the explanation he gave for his behavior, albeit that he also plead guilty to the charge of misconduct. Without sounding to Freudian, Warner amay also have been sporting a bruised ego, but he liked to think he was standing up for his wife. And we are all meant to sit here and applaud him for that. As if she can’t stick up for herself and needs a man doing it for her. It’s very much reminiscent of the animal kingdom – the alpha-lion with a thick black mane fights off the other males that dare to intrude on his females concubines. Warner fired up like a fierce silver-back gorilla, ready to fight off the rogue challenger. It was all very David Attenborough to watch it played out on the CCTV cameras that captured the action outside of the dressing rooms.
And there is the point – we have supposedly evolved from the jungle – the laws of dominance and aggression have been transcended by the rule of law, Locke’s social contract and the values of our community. We are civilized, we seek truth and justice and most of all we are equal, but if the male half the population need to pounce on one another to defend the honour of the female half of the population, then we don’t really believe it. Women are still the helpless princess locked in the top of a tower who needs saving from a handsome prince riding past on a black stallion. No one ever explained to me how the prince get the princess down from the lofty tower cell, or even how she ended up there in the first place. I know she let out her long braided hair to get him up to her, but then wouldn’t they both be stuck up in the tower. At least together they could make love, and a tower floor amongst the straw is as good as a toilet.
The whole damsel in distress ideas should be debunked. We should help humans that need help, but only if they need help, and it shouldn’t matter if they are men on women. That’s how community works. And verbal abuse and fighting over words is better off in the school yard.
“David and Quinton, neither of you behaved well. You both have detentions, and I suggest you don’t mention this to anyone when you get home.”
“No buts. Or I’ll ring both of your mothers and tell them what happened. And I’m sure you don’t want that, do you? Because they would be most disappointed in the way you have behaved. Right? Now, shake hands and get out of my sight.”