How journalists are setting sports stars up for a fall
You can feel it coming: the assault charges, drink driving charges, nude photo scandals, spot betting scandals, public urination, public defecation, public fornication, racism, Marxism, drinking, smoking gambling, and so on.
Yep, the footy is upon us and the journos have had a gruelling pre-season.
While you and your kids are tucked into your beds, dreaming of unicorns and rainbows, your friendly neighbourhood journalist has been rummaging through Shane Warne’s garbage bins, staking out back alleys behind clinically depressed teenager’s hotel rooms, and desperately trying to justify to themselves that your kid’s heroes don’t deserve privacy (journalists can’t sleep at night, so they are compelled to do such things).
The justification is, and has always been, that athletes are role models.
In his recent column in The Age, Peter Costello said: “Footballers are not chosen for their principles.
They do not go into a national draft for budding philanthropists. They can run and catch and kick a ball.”
The day I let a politician school me on sporting issues will be the day I let a footballer babysit my kids. However, the sentiment is true.
Athletes are role models only in an athletic sense.
The endless pressure put on athletes to behave like choir boys is a trap, set by media outlets, to ensure they have a back page story until the end of days.
The media have created a self-sustaining news mine. They tell us that our athletes have to be perfect. When they inevitably aren’t, they and their club are put under the microscope.
Every negative thing done and said by the player and club is brought to light. The media holds the club accountable for failing to prevent the player from being themselves, and the club is forced to sack or discipline the player. This raises the expectations on players to even more impossible levels of perfection.
More scandals. More sackings. More headlines.
If we continue to sack sport-stars for their off-field misdemeanours, such as Brendan Fevola, Joel Monaghan or Lote Tuqiri, we will, quite frankly, run out of talent. Based on recent reports, rugby league’s 2010 Dally M medallist would have been gone years ago along with the Australian captain in the early 00’s and the NZ captain this week.
Half-back of the century, Andrew Johns, would have had his career cut in half.
Yes, these men are role models. But what they do off the field is none of your business. Why is it in the “public interest” that Sonny Bill got a shag in a toilet cubicle, unless, of course, he pulls his hammy and is sidelined for two weeks.
What is your business, though, is what these journos are doing in their spare time.
You rely on journalists to bring you the truth.
Unlike the footballers Costello mentioned, they are chosen, in part, for their principles. So wouldn’t it be in the “public interest” to know what these principles are?
In a snippet in his column on the SMH site, Nine reporter Danny Weidler criticised journalists who were heavy drinkers themselves, and for their criticism of Todd Carney.
He also made mention of a journo who has said very little of the affair. She herself has had her license suspended and was labelled by Weidler as a “serial drink-driver”.
I applaud Danny for making a very important point.
Journalists aren’t angels and it can impact on how they present the truth. The only problem with Danny’s swipe is that he didn’t name names.
Knowing which journalists we can and can’t trust with our news is infinitely more important than what athletes do in their spare time. Had it have been a sportsperson who had lost their license, it would have been on the front page and the back three pages. Yet the people we trust with the truth are not held accountable, either publicly or privately, for their actions.
An athlete should be judged on their performance as an athlete. It is the journalist who should be judged on their integrity and principles.
A journalist who will cash in on a man’s career and reputation would appear to have nought of either.
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