Brad Cooper

Malcolm Knox laments the passing of the celebrity sporting generalist, yet goes easy on the fact that Snowy Baker and his ilk were only up against other part-timers (‘One-sport Wonders’, May). When today’s top generalists, such as golfer and tennis player Scott Draper, dilute their impressive gifts they fully expect to lose to specialists.

As a swim coach I struggle to defend specialisation to some parents who cite the spectre of burn-out. When they eventually jettison two of their child’s daily swim sessions for soccer, I caution them to soften their expectations. Sadly, within a season or two that child may quit sport entirely with what’s sometimes called ‘cold’ burn-out – a perceived failure to establish an elite trajectory. (In the ‘you-can-be-anything’ public education hangover, many families seem unwilling to indulge sport for anything but star outcomes.) Knox’s cited ‘generalising-to-greatness’ notion may just be another iteration of wishful super-egalitarianism.

Brad Cooper

Gold Coast, QLD