Australia’s Ultimate Tall Poppy - Shane Warne


Australian sports celebrities are supposedly tall poppies. Placed on pedestals, their on-field and off-field behaviours are heavily scrutinised by the general and sporting media and wider community. This scrutiny has intensified with social media. Celebrities’ indiscretions are captured on smartphones and damaging material is posted in online community sports forums and various social media channels, sometimes resulting in sanctions by governing sport bodies. The dissemination of this material can be partially attributed to tall poppy syndrome, a deeply ingrained cultural attitude whereby people cut-down sport stars’ reputations in response to less-than-perfect performances and/or off-field personal indiscretions. This paper analyses this syndrome through a comparative examination of the career of the Australian cricketer and arguably the nation’s only global sporting celebrity, Shane Warne. Despite his frequent off-field indiscretions, which led to suspension, the stripping of the Australian vice-captaincy and the breakdown of his marriage, he retained public support and bucked the tall poppy trend. As this paper shows, Warne was able to control his public persona through the media and social media, in particular. This persona fed into national myths of Australian suburb, masculinity and whiteness, and the unworldly Australian ‘bogan’ abroad. Warne was forgiven his faults and mourned on his death because he constructed a persona that reflected an Australian stereotype based on how many White Australian males saw themselves.


Julie-Ann C Tullberg
Lecturer, Journalism, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Tom F Heenan
Lecturer, Monash Intercultural Lab, Monash University, Victoria, Australia


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Celebrity, Community, Sport, Social, Media, Australia, Behaviour, Whiteness, Online, Myth

Digital Media


Australia’s Ultimate Tall Poppy Shane Warne (Embed)