By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, June 22. AUSTRALIA'S star swimming duo Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett have topped an annual poll conducted by Aussie sports market research company Sweeney Research designed to measure “sports appropriateness,” a measure of a sportsperson’s popularity in relationship to his or her relative worth in terms of sponsorship.
“The Thorpedo” was a clear winner, scoring a total of 87 points ahead of distance ace Grant Hackett who tied with the former Aussie cricket captain, Steve Waugh for second with 74 points, three-time Olympian Michael Klim came in 11th, while dorsal specialist Matt Welsh was in 24th place.
If you can come to grips with that across the Pacific, this result in the US would mean your two top swimmers would be rated more highly that any of your basketball, baseball ot football stars! The results placed Thorpe and Hackett ahead of our Rugby World Cup captain George Gregan, and internationally recognised Aussie names such as Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter, Greg Norman and Harry Kewell.
Much like in the United States, there have been several major off-field scandals and on-field violence in our major professional team sports, contrasting with the dedication and professionalism of our elite swimmers hence they are providing ideal role models to the community.
The survey also revealed that swimming generated the highest amount of interest of the fifty-two sports polled attracting 62% compared with its highly televised opposition in tennis (60%), cricket (56%) and Australian rules football (54%).
Swimming was also the highest participated sport, with 43% enjoying the pool or ocean. Of those surveyed that watched sporting events on television, swimming came in equal fifth with 40% support.