One of the wisest quotes you will find about public speaking comes from Ira Hayes who opinioned ‘no one ever complains about a speech being too short’. Unfortunately Hayes is not longer with us because it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the criticism that has been levelled at Adelaide Captain Taylor Walker after his Grand Final speech on Saturday.
In an incredibly brief moment on the stage Walker congratulated the victorious Tigers, apologised to Crows fans, thanked them for travelling and the support that they and the clubs sponsors had given the team. Despite having just experienced perhaps the most disappointing day of his professional career he had managed to tick most of the boxes of who to acknowledge in a concession speech and vacated the stage so that his conquerors could receive their spoils.
Unfortunately for Walker we now live in a time of outrage for outrage sake and social media went into meltdown over the inappropriateness of his speech. Then on Sunday night, North Queensland Cowboys Captain Gavin Cooper gave an incredibly warm hearted and congratulatory speech when required to make his own concession speech after his teams 34-6 Grand Final defeat to the Melbourne Storm. In an incredibly magnanimous turn behind the microphone, Cooper lauded the dominance of the Storm and made special mention of the services to the game made by the departing Cooper Cronk and Clive Churchill Medallist Billy Slater, whose future was still unknown at the time.
Cooper’s speech was extremely eloquent and he is deserving of all the kudos that has come his way as a result. That said, for a number of reasons it is perhaps a little much to make this the expectation that all other runners up speeches need to measure up to. Without taking anything away from the sentiment of Cooper’s speech, they do come from a place of friendship forged from going to battle with Cronk and Slater a number of times at State of Origin level. It could be argued that it might be easier to deliver a heart felt speech about the qualities of your opponent when you have developed strong feelings about them.
“No I didn’t write a speech to lose the game,” Cooper told the assembled press corps when asked if he had prepared his speech before hand. It is a great answer and also another point to remember when judging a person delivering a speech immediately after a receiving a crushing blow in front of 100,000 spectators. How eloquent do you think you would be having to give a speech off the cuff under such circumstances? By all means give Gavin Cooper the due respect he deserves for an extraordinary speech under tough circumstances but shelve the outrage you have for Walker, it is unwarranted.
Listen below to more on this and a whole lot more on The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav, available on I-Tunes and Sound Cloud.