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Synopsis

An overview of the evolution of Australian sport during the 20th Century, Higher Richer Sleazier is a lament for the innocence and good sportsmanship of a former time. In today's Winning-Is-Everything world what has sport - and we as viewers and society as a whole - lost as a result?

In the Australian Dreamtime, sports stars were inspired amateurs, filled to overflowing with the glorious Olympic dreams of Baron de Coubertin. Guys who had begun by banging a golf ball with a stump against a water tank and just got better and better at it; golden girls who ran and swam gloriously before settling down as wives and mothers.

What would happen today if a modern athlete, sponsored to the hilt and laden with logos, stopped a world-record-setting run to lend a hand to a fallen comrade, as John Landy did with Ron Clarke in 1956? Would he become a national hero, as Landy did, or would he now be considered a bit suss, 'holier-than-thou' and not quite right, the way much of the media portrayed Adam Gilchrist when he walked?

Today it's a cut-throat world of big money, poisonous rivalries, sledging and the temptation to dabble in performance-enhancing drugs. Aussie sports fans love winners; but they still value sportsmanship. In a timely polemic, the eloquent Roy Masters explores how we have come to this and how we might be able to juggle the inherent inconsistencies in our vision of sport in the 21st Century.

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