Australian sports has produced numerous high profile characters who were known as people who never took a backward step in their field of endeavour. In the view of Cricket and Olympic chaplain, Mark Tronson, John Coates is one of these people.
Australian cricket is replete with such personalities – many of whom are winners: Sir Donald Bradman was the epitome of concentration; Ritchie Benaud could keep putting on unrelenting pressure; Ian Chappell was ruthless in his decisions, as long as they progressed the game; Greg Chappell displayed a determination that laid waste oppositions, and Steve Waugh squeezed the life out his opponents weaknesses.
Other sporting codes have similarly persistent characters. In the AFL there is Tom Hafey and Ron Barrasi; in Rugby League we find Jack Gibson and Wayne Bennett; Hockey has enabled Ric Charlesworth to have his head …. the list goes on.
Professional Sport is a tough business, especially now that athletes and coaches are bought and sold. For players or administrators to be winners, they need on the one hand the mind-set of a business tycoon, and on the other, an empathy with the traditions of their sport.
Even a cursory glance at John Coates history reveals that he fits right into this persona, along with these other remarkable Australians mentioned: all have a 'no-holds-barred attitude' which saw them rise as global leaders in their respective sport endeavours.
John Coates has performed at very high levels in Australian rowing; and later as an administrator and businessman, he has applied these same skills within the Australian Olympic movement, the Australian Sports Commission, the Sydney Olympics and the International Olympic Committee.
Recently, the Crawford Report into the effective use of Australian money in sporting endeavours was released. Among its 39 recommendations to the Federal Government, was a challenge to re-think the worth of the funding that is given to the Australian Olympic movement.
David Crawford is not new to bringing such major sport reports. He has provided an AFL report and a Soccer Report. In this recent report, he has 'been seen to have gone on the attack' by questioning the validity of pouring so many tax payer dollars into a two week event once every four years. In another section of his report, he highlighted the commercial constraints placed on participating sports by the Australian Olympic Committee.
John Coates went into overdrive. He gave Federal Sports minister Kate Ellis a couple of public blasts; he was on every media medium that would give him a voice; and now, he may have precipitated a court case about the material contained in of the contributing papers that the Crawford Report relied upon for factual information.
M V Tronson chairman of Well-Being Australia which specialises in a respite ministry to top level athletes, suggests there are three major issues to consider when pondering why John Coates comes across as if he is on the war path.
"John Coates got where he is by staking out his ground," stated Mark Tronson categorically. "As a respected member of the International Olympic Committee, like Martin Luther, he seems to say, 'Here I stand, I can do no other.' His passion is the Australian Olympic Team and the Crawford Report challenges its traditional philosophical underpinning for increased funding."
Knowing this background, it is not difficult to see where John Coates is coming from.
The great evangelists had this same philosophical and practical single minded focus to see men and women, boys and girls won for Jesus Christ.
The Federal Government holds the purse strings and it is they who will make the decision as to how this pie will be divided. It will be interesting to ascertain how they responded to John Coates' no-holds-barred lobbying.
I rather like John Coates' no-holds-barred attitude
Published 22 December 2009 | Mark Tronson