Sheesh, that Liz Cambage sure likes to stir up trouble, amirite?
No, I’m wrong. Really wrong. But you guys already knew that.
You might remember earlier this year when she publicly called out Opals teammate Alice Kunek for wearing ‘blackface’ at a dress-up party.
Just days from the Rio Games, Cambage has been involved in another public spat, this time with fellow Aussie basketballer Andrew Bogut via Twitter over the #blacklivesmatter movement.
See a theme here? Cambage sure does. Through the ignorance of her colleagues, the 24-year-old, whose father is Nigerian, has become an accidental spokesperson against racism in Australian sport.
It’s a role the 203cm centre is embracing.
"If I don't call (racism) out, who's going to do it?" Cambage asked in a recent interview with Reuters.
"People are scared to take a stand. If you do take a stand, you receive backlash.
"I guess I'm lucky I learned quite young not to really care what people say. I've learnt young to take a stand if I feel like something's wrong.
"I'm sick of seeing people get hurt and I'm sick of seeing people being made fun of.
"We teach kids that bullying is wrong and I don't think there's any difference when you're an adult.”
Actually, there is a difference when you’re an adult. The difference is you should know better. Bogut lands in this category for his unprovoked and unnecessary swipe at Cambage on Twitter last month. It started when Cambage threw a supportive Tweet for the “powerful yet peaceful” #blacklivesmatter rally she attended in Melbourne. Enter Bogut.
Wha? Why, dude?
There are a lot of reasons why that was a dumb thing for Bogut to Tweet. I’m not really the right person to outline them. Personally, I feel as though the people best placed to talk about subjects as sensitive and important as racism are the people who know it from within. People like, say, ELIZABETH CAMBAGE.
Personally, I feel as though the people best placed to talk about subjects as sensitive and important as racism are the people who know it from within. People like, say, ELIZABETH CAMBAGE.
So, here she is again: "If you want to try (to) bring someone down for standing up for what they believe in, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
"We have such a diverse and multi-cultural country and such a beautiful country but we don't show how diverse we are and we also don't own our history of what happened to Indigenous Australians.”
Since these words, the Cambage/Bogut Twitter row has reignited.
Prompted by a Tweet from Indigenous Australian rapper Briggs, Bogut said ‘soz’ for his original Tweet using what looked suspiciously like Twitter’s invisible sarcasm font.
“Better late than never” responded Cambage, with a smiley face. A SMILEY FACE. The international symbol of peace, love and basketball.
Still, Bogut had another dig, this time at Cambage’s admittedly very odd decision last year to skip national team camp to attend the Splendour in the Grass music festival.
Now, I used to be a teenager so I know a bit about bitchiness and, although based on truth, that seems a little hashtag bitchy to me. Moreover, it belittles the very important subject at the core of this war of words.
Cambage wasn’t asking for a fight. In fact, she was quite literally celebrating peace when this brouhaha began. The fact she is so heavily slated when she voices her concerns on this issue only emphasises the problem.
Meanwhile, the Olympics. Both Cambage and Bogut are deep into Rio preparations with the opening ceremony just days away.
Twitter tit-for-tat is hardly conducive to team cohesion, but hopefully both athletes are professional enough to keep their eyes on the prize.
The fact Cambage also has one eyes on social justice should be cause for kudos, not criticism.