WAGs aren’t about team happiness, but marketing
It’s a good thing the Aussies have their wives and girlfriends along for the Ashes tour.
Had they not been there, it’s quite probable we would have gone down to county side Northamptonshire because we’ve all been assured by Cricket Australia that the boys play better if the WAGs are in attendance.
Seeing as we have managed to win just one of the seven tour games so far, I tremor at the thought of what would have happened if CA hadn’t had the foresight to support the significant others/B-grade celebrities and female wannabes to stay with the cricketers for the first part of the Ashes.
But, to me, the WAGs’ policy looks more like an invention born of the need for cricket publicity than for team success. I have no problems with wives, girlfriends and families spending time with their partners if that’s what CA intended.
But I suspect having the WAGs on tour is less about making the team happy and more about keeping cricket in the news.
The Australians have struggled for coverage in recent years and fielding an underwhelming side for this tour was bound to lead to the need to generate interest. At times, during the last tours to the subcontinent, you had to look hard to find match reports in the back pages of the papers.
You can almost see the smart, young marketing executive at CA telling anyone who’d listen that linking celebrity with cricket would fire up the ratings.
Cue fashionistas for instant pictures and fire up a catfight between a player’s mother and attractive girlfriend. Bingo, instant coverage.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But is that true?
At this stage, I attach the caveat that when it comes to celebrity news I seem to have not just jumped the generation gap but pole-vaulted it. While a sizeable chunk of society seems obsessed with celebrity and newspapers can’t get enough celebrity content, I have drifted in the other direction.
I can’t stand that Paris Hilton is referred to as a role model. There is nothing about her that I’d want my daughters to emulate.
I don’t think it’s a positive thing for society that a trend has developed for “stars” to leak their own sex tapes because of the publicity this drives. And I don’t think it’s admirable that decent actors are openly and actively encouraged to demonstrate bad behaviour because it sells better.
So it stands to reason that I’m not really going to be greatly interested in recent coverage of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson carrying the shopping bags for their girlfriends in London.
Or, for that matter, the much covered fight between Mitchell Johnson’s mother and girlfriend.
I recognise that boosted coverage doesn’t necessarily mean that the greater numbers of readers endorse celebrity activity; they often just enjoy looking at their bizarre and immoral behaviour or looking at the pics of the latest fashions. Put simply, reading about the freak show doesn’t mean readers are about to follow the freaks.
But the crowding out effect of celebrity news means that we aren’t taking part in discourse on other more important matters. And, I think, a constant and growing exposure to the amoral, marketing-driven behaviour of celebrities sends all the wrong signals.
Society has managed to lock itself in mixed message of massive proportions. On one hand, we want participants in society to aspire to decency and fairness. We ask our kids to respect others and behave properly.
But on the other hand we reward the people who demonstrate the worst human tendencies with more coverage and more money. And meanwhile, we can’t help ourselves from enjoying what seems to bring out the worst in us.
I might come across as an old codger at age 45, but I remember the good old days when we didn’t need Lara Bingle to drive an interest in the cricket. And we certainly didn’t need to stir a family fight to get the promotion on track.
I remember Steve Waugh demonstrating toughness and resilience with a double ton at Sabina Park, leading Australia to victory with its first series win in the West Indies for decades.
I remember in 1989 watching Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh bat all day at Trent Bridge, racking up 0- 301 as the Aussies destroyed the Poms 4-0 in that series.
I just enjoyed watching them do it and I didn’t need pictures of Lara Bingle sending texts to her agent about her next fashion shoot to inspire me to watch it.
Maybe Lara Bingle and Jessica Bratich might get a few extra eyeballs across the CA website, but the organisation’s willingness to attach itself to the whole celebrity saga seems to me to be an admission that the team can’t attract viewers on talent alone.
Who wins? No doubt pandering to an obsession with celebrity might generate a few extra dollars, but ultimately in this moral race to the bottom, no-one.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…