Every year, Australians break sporting world records through a combination of ingenuity, grit and teamwork. Sport is a source of personal and national pride for millions. In this book, economist, politician and triathlete Andrew Leigh argues that sport can embody both achievement and egalitarianism. On the starting line, what matters isn’t athletes’ wealth or connections but their hard work. In a fair tournament, the last-placed team starts the next year with a fighting chance to win the grand final.
Yet, over the past generation, the Australian economy hasn’t matched the performances of our top sportspeople. The nation that brought home a glittering haul of medals from the Tokyo Olympics, and the urn from the last three Ashes series, has an economy that’s unfit for the challenges of the future. Productivity is in the doldrums, and student test scores are falling. The business start-up rate has dropped, and markets aren’t as competitive as they should be.
Leigh argues that we don’t have a shared national story about the kind of economy we want to build, or the kind of society we want to live in, and that this is where sport can provide the necessary inspiration. Sport isn’t just about winning—it’s about how we play the game.
Sport provides the most powerful rebuttal to the myth that we have to choose between fairness and excellence. Sport reminds us that we can celebrate the underdog and cheer the champion. Sport demonstrates that innovation and equality can go together.