WITH apologies to Jane Austen …
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of great sporting talent, will, upon going through Customs on his first major overseas representative tour for Australia, lose 10 years from his mental age." No exceptions.
Eighteen-year-olds will laugh at eight-year-old fart jokes, 22-year-olds will act like 12-year-olds and even 26-year-olds will still have an embarrassing compulsion to act like juveniles.
So it has been through the sporting ages - including in the experience of this correspondent - so it is, and so it will be in the future.
And so it was clearly with the members of the 4 x 100 metre relay team, just before the London Olympics as - in a sport where the difference between victory and defeat is measured in as little as a hundredth of a second - they still thought it would be fun, and "bonding", to take sleeping pills, possibly mixed with the Red Bull drink, before carrying on like idiots and waking up other team members.
For me, the issue is less about the fact that most of this relay team behaved like dickheads, and far more a question of where was the senior and mature leadership in this team, to curb this natural infantility? Where was the coach, where was the management, where were the older members of the team, as all this
was going on? Why weren't they pulling the younger ones into line? How did the culture of the whole set-up so lose its way?
We know where the 27-year-old Eamon Sullivan was, on his third Olympics. He was there on the night, in the middle of the throng, as he and his teammates take the AOC-proscribed drug of Stilnox, provided by him, a week before the biggest sporting contest of their lives. He was there as those team members then carried on with it, by waking up other team members with random calls, door-knocking and possibly worse.
Mate, with your experience, did it not occur to you that, as the senior member of the team, it was up to you to call off the jam, to say this is not the go? And what about you, Matthew Targett, also 27, and on your second Olympic Games? Never a thought that maybe as one of the adults in the piece, your duty was to settle everyone down, the way mature members did it for you in 2008?
And finally you, Australian coach Leigh Nugent? This kind of stuff was going on, on your watch, and you claim you knew nothing about the taking of the Stilnox at the time, and have barely heard about it since? Please. This is either truthful or untruthful, and it is a moot point as to which is more appalling.
If truthful, how distant must you have been from the team you are charged with guiding, that you could not have known about it? If you did know about it however, how the hell can you not have knocked heads together the following day to stop this kind of nonsense cold?
For we have all seen the results, or lack thereof. Millions of taxpayer dollars had been put towards preparing your team, with battalions of dietitians, sports psychologists and scientists unleashed, even as tens of thousands of laps were swum by your charges in the best environments imaginable - all for the worst results in the modern era. And yet somehow, this ludicrously infantile and damaging nonsense happened in the crucial immediate lead-up to the contest, without you raising a word against it.
Your watch, Leigh Nugent. Your responsibility. Do the right thing.