Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
– Bill Knott
A big year for hair in sports, due in large part to the efforts of one man who took it all on his shoulders. Literally.
Back in March of 2002, a journalist for the University of Wisconsin’s campus paper The Daily Cardinal wrote this about Kirk Penney:
“Kirk Penney looks to me like the kind of guy who goes in to get his hair cut every two or three weeks. He looks like the kind of guy who puts at least some time into his hair every morning and I think anyone who does that harbors some feelings of insecurity.”
The article is interesting as it paints Penney as an athlete who maintained his hairstyle with strict and unwavering discipline. In 2002, he sported what could be described as an American-style crew(esque) cut, short back & sides with a little room to manoeuvre on top – classic, sharp, focused, with military undertones.
So as the 2008 NBL season began, it was a surprise (a sexy surprise) to see that Kirk Penney had unleashed the beast in the off-season, allowing his hair to express itself as freely on the scalp as Kirk does on the hardwood. Penney appeared to be giving no firm directive to his hair – he was saying to the hair “you go out there and play your natural game. I have faith in you, I know you will make the right play”. Week in, week out, the hair did not fail to perform, meeting the ever-increasing expectation of fans, and growing into one of the iconic characters of sport in 2008. This is what has elevated Kirk Penney’s hair above all others – it is now recognised as an integral part of the Breakers organisation, a discussion point, a source of inspiration and awe, and undoubtedly a key reason that this team has, in the space of a few short months, established themselves as the most feared in the league.
Honourable mention: Sam Rapira.
The Rugby League World Cup Final was one of the most memorable occasions of the 2008 calendar, not only for the result, or the dramatic aftermath, but for this:
This image is now burnt into our collective memories, a snapshot that defines a magical night for New Zealanders, and a reminder why it’s okay to cut your own hair every now and then – sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.