If the back pages of our papers were still about sport the latest shenanigans by NRL players would have passed into insignificance already.
Jonathan Thurston, Mitchell Pearce, Valentine Holmes even the Essendon Football Club ‘saga’ would all have been mere blips on our collective ‘you should give a sh*t about this’ radar.
Those of you out there racking your brains trying to pinpoint how we’ve got to this point where being good at footy (or any sport for that matter) means you also have to be a model citizen off the field can safely end said noggin-scratching.
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Because I think I’ve found it.
It may come as no surprise whatsoever for some people to read that this is all the media’s fault, but what I think even the most jaded media-grumblers will find interesting is precisely where the source of this all started.
The back pages.
That’s right, that hallowed space reserved for the discussing/dissecting of game-specific tactics and the celebration of great sporting achievements has been usurped by a cadre of new-age of sports journalist more concerned with why a player had a beer after the game than why they missed 7 tackles and bungled a match-winning play.
Perhaps these guys and girls all missed out on a job in ‘hard’ news and are trying to grab whatever limelight they can in sport.
Drink driving, gambling addition, drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic violence – over the last 15 years these serious issues (and they are serious) have migrated from being serious news that happens to involve a person who plays sport to being sporting news that involves a serious issue.
The distinction is massive.
Poker machine addiction, depression, alcohol-fuelled fisticuffs – these ‘sports stories’ get splattered all over the back pages of our once-treasured papers, written or packaged together by journalists who care nothing for the damage they are doing to an industry built on fun.
I’m not saying that a player with a gambling addiction is not a serious matter – im just saying that ANYONE with gambling addiction is a serious matter.
That they happen to play sport is not grounds to make it the story of the week in a section traditionally reserved for the lighter side of life.
And let’s face it, if we thought this stuff was really THAT serious, then why is it not slapped across the front pages when a rock singer or famous actor has a headline-inducing night on the town?
Know what happens when that happens? We laugh about it, celebrate it even.
But when a sports star does it it’s the end of the world.
There is currently no subset of people judged more harshly or held to a higher standard than professional athletes.
Not even politicians!
Journalists, sponsors, clubs, and affiliates – they are all complete and utter fools if they think they can keep these young men and women to that standard.
Or if they think that we care in the slightest what these men and women do outside of their respective fields or courts.
So how about we relax this idiotic standard we have set for one group of people and fill the sports pages with actual sporting news.
Here’s your chance to get your opinion in front of a larger audience. And earn a dollar!
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