I have just scored a hat-trick! I managed to get three green lights on my way to work today! Have you noticed how the term ‘hat-trick’ has been significantly devalued to simply mean the number three? The term was first coined way back in 1858 when HH Stephenson took three wickets in three consecutive deliveries. As was customary for outstanding feats by professionals, a collection was held for Stephenson and he was presented with a hat purchased with the proceeds.

As you can imagine, recording a hat-trick in cricket is no easy feat. There are so many variables and various possibilities that to actually capture three consecutive wickets is beyond remarkable. In the 2,121 Test matches ever played, with a total of approximately 63,630 wickets having fallen in those matches, only 40 hat-tricks have occurred. Since the first Test match hat-trick in 1879, there have been gaps as long as 19 years between hat-tricks and never more than four hat-tricks have occurred in a single calendar year.

Can we all agree that a hat-trick is a rare thing indeed and something to be marvelled at and celebrated? In true Aussie style, I take the deafening silence to be a Yes.

I want to know at what point the term ‘hat-trick’ became a substitute for the number three. When I read a match report for Rugby League or Union or Hockey or Soccer or just about any sport, I read with great disappointment that “Player X scored a hat-trick of tries”. I used to assume that at least the tries were consecutive with no other players (from either side) scoring in-between these tries but, upon reading the match report, I typically see that Player X simply scored three times. To emphasise the point, Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record for the most career hat-tricks with 52. The fact that this individual total is more than the entire history of Test match cricket emphasises my point. By my reckoning Wayne Gretzky didn’t score 52 hat-tricks. He may have scored three goals in a game 52 times but that doesn’t constitute a hat-trick. If you applied the same logic to cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan would have 163 hat-tricks as that is the number of times he took three or more wickets in an innings.

This all seems to be part of the process of cheapening accomplishments. My daughter was a member of a soccer team that played in a round-robin tournament and she was too sick to play. They wanted to give her a trophy at the end. She didn’t actually play in the tournament! My son came home from school with a merit award. While I was congratulating him he self-deflated the award by telling me everyone in the class received one. I even heard of a dance studio that held its end-of-year concert and, rather than give out the normal individual awards for significant achievements, gave everyone a trophy because ‘they are all so good’. Does anyone understand that by giving everyone an award no-one wins an award? Before we know it, Lotto will start making all prizes equal and everyone will win $1.50 (for a $2 ticket) so people aren’t disappointed in losing.

One of my great disappointments with modern politicians (and I firmly exclude Councillors from the group called politicians as I consider we are performing community service rather than being ‘politicians’) is that they tend to delay and delay decisions as they may offend the ‘losers’ from said decision. Alternatively they may review and consult for years so that it appears as though something is happening when the reality is that it is just a delay tactic. When a decision is finally made, it is often so middle of the road that it more designed to limit the fallout than it is to achieve anything positive.

Local government has these same challenges. Councillors are much more accessible and closer to the people than any other level of government and therefore it is easier for Councillors to hear exactly what people in a community feel. The recent example of the information evening for the South Dubbo Housing Choice Planning Proposal is just such an example. There, 400 people packed the Macquarie Auditorium to ensure that Councillors were well and truly aware of what they think. I have heard many opinions – and many strong opinions – in both directions in relation to this proposal. When this comes to Council in May, a decision will be made and there will be unhappy and happy people. Unfortunately that happens sometimes in life but for progress to be made, decisions need to be made. When no decision is the answer, stagnation is the result.

As a society, the sooner we get back to awarding achievement and not handing out prizes to everyone, the sooner we will encourage excellence in our society. Until then, I guess adequate is adequate.

Tell me if you prefer a no rather than a maybe at mayor@dubbo.nsw.gov.au


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