Players alienate the fans at their own peril

Nick Kyrgios is a dill. Perhaps I am too for bothering to write a column about him.

We can cut so much slack to a precocious talent finding his way, but the time comes to draw the line in the sand.

Telling fans they know he is unpredictable and should take that into account when buying a ticket to watch him play provides for me, at least, that dividing line.

It was easy enough to argue when they had their spat earlier this year, that Kyrgios and Australian Team boss Kitty Chiller just had a different perspective on what it meant to be an Olympian.

But pratish behaviours accumulate and the patience of those looking on wear thin.

Disrespect your sport, your opponents and even the Olympic ideal at will. The consequences for that emerge from within and a young bloke like Kyrgios manages accordingly.

FINE LINE: Nick Kyrgios, pictured at the Rakuten Open, is earning a reputation for disrespecting his fanbase. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to be alone. Picture: Getty Images

FINE LINE: Nick Kyrgios, pictured at the Rakuten Open, is earning a reputation for disrespecting his fanbase. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to be alone. Picture: Getty Images

Sometimes - as when fined marginally more than a losing match fee, it is just a slap on the wrist.

But telling the fans that in effect they don’t matter is very different. That can cascade down quickly to affect match contracts, appearance fees and sponsorship.

It won’t be long before the more militant of fans start speaking for the silent majority and begin asking tournament organisers for their money back.

Donald Trump might characterise it as locker room talk but this is bro banter.

Kyrgios has said that he actually doesn’t like tennis. Every time he displays a poor attitude or utters his next lazy phrase or two, he is talking to his mates, because surely they are the only ones who could possibly get it.

Families rationalise and find excuses in situation like this. That’s understandable and normal. But the mates relish the moment and worship the hero much more, even though we can be pretty sure none of them ever has to buy a ticket.

Integrity in sport in all its forms is under threat, but gnawing away at the fan base now seems to be just as expendable as any other aspect.

Kyrgios is at the extreme, but so too are some of the extraordinary behaviours over the past five days in the phenomenon that is AFL trade week – or fortnight or month whatever it now is.

Bryce Gibbs signed a five-year contract with Carlton for long-term playing security and very good money. But less than half way through he wants it to be meaningless. Again the fans who have supported him and thought they would continue to do so long term are the losers.

Surely he considered when he signed up that starting a family was a possibility during the ensuing five years. 

Imagine if Carlton, having promised babysitting services, had reneged on that.

Horses for course though, with Sam Mitchell more than happy to relocate his tribe across the country.

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