It’s hard to comprehend the level of naivety (at best) that led Kurtley Beale, Corey Norman, Dylan Napa and all the other sweating young fellows to take video of themselves doing dumb stuff for the amusement of their pals on encrypted WhatsApp chat, but there you go. Forrest Gump’s momma was right: Rugby league is a box of chocolates.
And dudes are dumb.
Well, these guys aren’t dumb. They ripped off risky dumb stuff, yes. But that’s what young blokes do, even well-paid famous footy ones. They take risks for kicks.
People lament that footballers will never learn. And that’s right – because footballers will always be young blokes.
And young blokes – since the first man out of Africa played chicken with a sabre-tooth tiger – will always do dumb stuff. It’s part of being a dude. You can’t educate the genome.
You can do your best, of course. As you should. The NRL does. And each year a claque of fresh young dudes arrives to take a turn on the famous footy player conveyor belt, and they’re told about the dangers of social media, and alcohol and illegal drugs, and everything there is that it is bad.
Actors play parts. Respected older players tell them what’s what. There are countless examples of prior behaviour that saw players humiliated, sanctioned and worse.
And some new blokes will listen and obey.
Some will understand that it’s in their best interest to tread warily.
And some will take videos of themselves shagging because they believe themselves invisible or invincible or both. And because it’s fun. See: ecstasy tablets.
For young dudes, lot of ‘em anyway, it’s a rite of passage to live life near the edge, to rip off risky maneuvers.
It’s just… how things are. Doesn’t mean you can’t have an advertisement for the generational effect of drinking to try and change things.
But y’know – young men do risky stuff. It’s why they run with bulls at Pamplona.
Girls don’t do this stuff, generally. They’re not amused by the same things. They just… they don’t do this stuff.
The NRL (and yes, Kurtley’s a Rah-rah, but you know, rugby league) has an Integrity Unit that’s charged with protecting the brand.
If you do something naughty that could get in the newspapers, you tell your footy club who tell these guys who investigate and make a report to the suits higher-up who decide upon sanction.
And the players know this. It won’t stop knuckleheads taking video of themselves shagging and showing their mates. But it should stop some of them, one would assume.
Anyway – I don’t give a stuff what Norman and Napa and a chat group of Roosters boys do in their free time online, it’s their business.
The NRL’s Integrity Unit is involved because of the potential for negative press and because they want their brand squeaky. Yet the NRL suits themselves, they don’t care. Professionally they do. Not personally.
It’s the same journos reporting this stuff. It’s reported because it’s news and news is the profession. Plus it’s sexy, and it’ll sell papers and rate and all that.
But everyone’s been 20 years old. People are capable of empathy. And living and letting… living… something.
And I’m betting many hundreds of dollars against the delicious cinnamon donuts outside the Big W at Warringah Mall that you, dear reader and Roarer, are thinking, I don’t give a stuff either what these people do in their spare time, why it’s their business, I would hope no-one pokes their face into mine.
And so on.
And here we are! And we’re wondering who outside the sanctimonious strains of talkback radio preachers, who does care?
Because the greater mad job lot of us, all of we who play, admininster, report and consume sport – we don’t care.
We’ll tell each other: I don’t care. You don’t care. So who actually does bloody care?
Money cares. Because money knows you, The Consumer, actually do care. You say you don’t but you do, even subconsciously.
Money knows that Dragons Incorporated, say, will take a hit because of the Norman tape.
Money knows that Bulldogs Incorporated will take a hit because fresh from the nudity of Mad Monday (when the Tele sent a shooter with a telephoto lens to get ‘em) the Napa thing will send tremors through sponsors, advertisers and other purveyors of money.
Because you, Consumer, will go off the Dragons or Bulldogs. And so money gets jittery, because money knows people.
Money knows that all the column inches generated by Napa means Mums will be less inclined to buy the Bulldogs kit at Rebel Sport.
Money knows you. Or thinks it does.
And yet! In these modern times of instant mass media, and online alerts pinging into one’s pocket all the damned time, money and mums should chill out.
Hear that, mums? Money? Chill out.
And work out that while people may care a little bit about “the video”, “the incident”, what have you, tomorrow or next week or next month at very worst there’ll be some new Outrageous Thing come along to make us all gape.
And then money can go back to associating with Dragons Incorporated, Bulldogs Incorporated, whatever, because when the Nazis are burning bonfires of Gillette razors on Invasion Day, Big Papi’s porno will be a memory, faded into time like the road warrior known only as “Max”.
Remember they all jumped off Tiger Woods? Old Tigger spent a couple years in purgatory, contrite, building a better Tigger. And now he’s won a tourney and they’re all jumping back on again. Or they will if they’re smart. And money is.
Well, not the money I won on the horses last Saturday and immediately invested into Arsenal to beat West Ham. That was quite stupid money.
But you get the point.
And the point is: Dylan and Corey and dear sweet Kurtley B, and all the money and mums in the known sporting universe, should chill in the knowledge that these things have a shelf life.
And unless The Incident involves fingers in the bottom or simulated drunken foolery with a poodle, you haven’t made love with that metaphorical goat. People will move on. And money will move on with it.