WE ARE told grown men – nay giants of the species – wept uncontrollably in the Eden Park dressing room in Auckland after England’s ignominious departure from the Rugby World Cup.
Mike Tindall might shed a few more tears the next time our Monarch of the Realm whispers into his mishaped lughole, and one or two others from Martin Johnson’s under-achieving squad might utter a squeal or two when their loved ones get hold of them.
In truth I’m sick of the sight of sportsmen crying because they’ve been relegated to the Blue Square Premier, or missed a penalty in the play-offs. Norman Hunter and Brian Close wouldn’t have been seen dead showing emotions like that.
I’m not given to blubbing either – not that I’m a hard man, you just don’t do it.
Except that is when a loved one departs, or when you’re moved by an incredible act of bravery that puts everything into perspective.
When I saw 13-year-old Danielle Bailey project herself up the aisle – squat-paddling if you like – to receive her award at the Pride of Britain ceremony in London’s Grosvenor Hotel, I welled up and it was reach for the hankie time.
Here was a living example of stupendous bravery, a bonny lass who lost her hands and feet to meningitis, but who, bless her, refused to succumb to a horrendous act of nature.
Danielle is now swimming so well her dream is to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympics and who would bet against someone with that unquenchable spirit achieving their goal.
As someone who has been privileged to work in the media all my life, I think it’s time to re-arrange our priorities.
People like Danielle, and all those others who stepped forward to be so rightly honoured by the nation, deserve time in the spotlight, far more than many of the prima donas who dominate our pages.
As much space was given to the dresses worn by Cheryl Cole, Coleen Rooney, Holly Willoughby et al as it was to the man who had raised over £100 million for cancer research, the 11 year-old who saved his father from a rampaging bull or the 71-year-old woman who attacked an armed gang with her handbag.
I understand we all like some glamour in our newspapers, I’ve no problem with that, but I do think we could prioritise a little better, and in particular I genuinely believe the Paralympics should receive as much, if not more television exposure, as it’s able bodied counterpart.
Our country was let down by our much-hyped rugby players, so let us instead glory in the inspirational achievements of genuine role models.