Is David Beckham coming to Australia? Who cares? I don’t. His overly tattooed torso, has-been right foot and toothpick wife can come to Australia if they like, or not. I couldn’t give a stuff, and we shouldn’t either. But we do. We really, really do.

Still, yay for me. Pic: AP

Personalities drive the public’s interest in a sport, especially when it’s a public not already familiar with that sport, but those personalities rarely have the same effect on the field as they do off it.

The result is sports reporting that focuses on the mediocre effects of a darling or bad boy, which disregards the superior play of a comparatively unknown, or a team effort. Since they haven’t married a starlet, kicked goals overseas, or been involved in a drug or sex scandal. (Insert cheap Bulldogs, Sharks, Premier League etc joke here).

A young unknown might score two goals for Melbourne Victory, but if Harry Kewell has a near miss and is maybe injured, that’s far bigger news.

Exactly the same thing happens with actors, and all celebrities. Someone gives a standout performance in a film, nobody cares. Someone gets caught with a hooker, has foppish charm and gives a passable performance in a romcom, we collectively lose our minds.

The same problem also exists in politics, with all that attention still going to Kevin Rudd, and on television, where people remain interested in Lara Bingle. I honestly don’t know why anyone was ever interested in her. By mentioning her here, I know I’m not helping. But the worst offenders? The X-Men, and the way Wolverine hogs all the attention, although his super powers are more shiny than effective. (Any nerds reading this just spilled an energy drink all over World of Warcraft.)

We’re so interested in these people because we love a good story, and once the media has created a story around a person, every new morsel of news about them adds to that ongoing narrative.  It’s not so much what they’re doing now that’s interesting, it’s what they’re doing now in context of what they’ve done.

Hence Brendan Fevola kicking goals in the country is still news.

With the A-League, it’s the prioritising of notoriety over talent. Young players are missing out because teams feel like they need to overpay overseas has-beens, in order to drag people to games, and this is one reason our national team is suffering.

Again with movies, male actors too old for action are trotted out repeatedly owing to their profile, and it’s all getting a bit squeamish. Especially when there’s over 20 years between them and the lead lady.

The AFL fell into the same trap, and by marketing standards, it was a huge success. Israel Falou was never going to be any good at AFL. With rugby league, he’s a superstar, but in terms of AFL there are scores of more talented players in lower leagues out there every weekend. Even in the off season.

Using the media generated by his crossing codes, Western Sydney launched their brand, and he was utterly hopeless. But kids took an interest in Izzy, the media reported every time he got near it, or didn’t, and when he left the code after two years, he’d generated millions of dollars worth of exposure, easily covering the cost of his contract.

The only problem? He was supposed to be playing football. His efforts at AFL remind me of the American Lingerie Football League. Just look pretty and smile for the camera. Thanks champ.
The NRL also lost out. A spectacular player has sacrificed two of his best years wandering around like he’s lost a contact lens. All for cash.

Players who are paid for their profile, and not for their performance, undermine the integrity of all our team sports. In the same way that reality television undermines shows with actual scripts and a point. The media blows the achievements of these individuals so out of proportion, that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that it’s a team sport. Piggybacking on someone’s established public profile for attention is a cheap, horrible gimmick but while it continues to succeed, it won’t be going anywhere.

With this article, I suppose I’m doing something similar. Creating attention for my upcoming stand up show, but there are a few differences. I’m not doing either just for the money, I believe in what I’m writing and I’m not a has been, I’m hopefully a has not yet been. Otherwise, I’ll just be another never was.

If you didn’t mind this rant, why not come see some live stand up?

Xavier Toby – White Trash’ at the Butterfly Club in Sth Melb, Nov 22 to 25 at 9pm Thurs to Sat (8pm Sun).

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.

Most commented


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    • Haxton Waag says:

      06:32am | 21/11/12

      I don’t really see any reason to put him down, either. He’s not a criminal.

    • PJ says:

      11:41am | 21/11/12

      if he comes to the A League he’ll be robbing some young Australians of a chance of growth, because all the monies will go to Product Beckham.

      He was never that good.

      I suspect Man U were glad to off load him at the time.

    • Shane* says:

      12:06pm | 21/11/12

      Nonsense, PJ.

      At his peak Beckham was world-class. Was it inflated because of his looks and celebrity? Absolutely. But he could still stream down the right wing and deliver a cross better than all but a handful of people on earth.

      Watching him play Victory last year, he was (along with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane) clearly a class above the rest. They weren’t as quick as the young-uns, but they seemed to find the time and space to do what they wanted without being rushed.

      And if you’ve romanticised Australian football enough to think he’d be robbing a future Socceroo of playing time and development, allow me to bring you crashing back to earth - any young Aussie worth considering a ‘future Socceroo’ is snapped up by an Asian or European club at 16. They’re rarely-to-never in the A-League.

    • Q says:

      07:41am | 21/11/12

      “His overly tattooed torso, has-been left foot…...”

      Ummm…...Beckham’s is famous for his right foot, not his left. He never had a left foot to begin with, so it could never be “has been….”

      He broke the second metatarsal in his left foot in 2002.

      You don’t really care do you?

    • sunny says:

      08:24am | 21/11/12

      I’m not surprised Izzy was always out of position in AFL games, none of the players are ever on-side. When are the refs in the AFL going to enforce the off-side rule?

      The Lingerie Football League is not that bad - I reckon they stack up alright smile ..but IMO the best part is the huddle so what do I know.

    • PJ says:

      11:48am | 21/11/12

      Hopefully, my team will get a finals berth this season and beat Collingwood along the way.

      Sorry thrash, like the Swans did in the Pies final game.

      Jeddah’s third goal, how embarrassing for the Pies…

      Lingerie Football   Oh Sexism!  :D

    • sunny says:

      01:13pm | 21/11/12

      Hope can sometimes get them over the line.

      Yeah I probably need to get back in my kennel on matters of lingerie football *woof slobber howwwwl* ..or get smacked with a rolled up newspaper *yelpppp*

    • Al B says:

      08:37am | 21/11/12

      He’d be a great addition…and for a club with foresight could attract the interest in the game to enable the sort of investment required to help slowly evolve Australia into a global footballing heavyweight. We aim for the top in every other sport, why not football?

    • scott says:

      09:51am | 21/11/12

      It’s called soccer

    • Al B says:

      10:26am | 21/11/12

      haha Planet Football disagrees with u scott..We Are Football…

    • RobJ says:

      10:37am | 21/11/12

      ‘Soccer’ is slang for association football. It’s called football.

    • Paul says:

      11:39am | 21/11/12

      And that’s why the national team is called the Footballroos - Oh, wait a minute…

      In Australia the vast majority of the population calls the game Soccer… Regardless of what the reasons are this isn’t going to change in the short term.  And yes, most of us that don’t call the games by it’s foreign name are deliberate in this.

    • Al B says:

      01:07pm | 21/11/12

      The national team is called Australia…its nickname or slang name is the ‘Socceroos’...just to clarify

    • S.L says:

      08:38am | 21/11/12

      I heard on the radio that John Singleton was keen to see Becks play a cameo for the Mariners for a few games. Now as a Mariners fan I can’t see they need him as they are in great form at the moment but for the publicity and “bums on seats” attraction he brings it would be one of the better financial moves the Mariners have made. I can see Mariners jerseys with “BECKHAM” walking out of sports shops at Erina Fair for months after!

    • pink says:

      09:00am | 21/11/12

      I don’t care that you don’t care..
      Becks is gawge, and if given the opportunity me and my girlfriends would make a day of it and actually go and watch him play.
      Come on down Becks!

    • Rambo says:

      09:19am | 21/11/12

      Unless the article has been edited it says right foot for me.

    • Bacon sandwich says:

      09:52am | 21/11/12

      Diddums. Thems the breaks for overpaid sports people. I wish I could millions a year for playing quite a boring sport to watch.

      And Hugh Grant is a cool guy. I wish I was a cool guy. Waaaaah.

    • Grandma says:

      10:02am | 21/11/12

      David Beckham appears to a nice bloke who does charity work and is prepared to spend time with the kids. In my books that makes him a good role model. Any appearance he makes here will increase the profile of the club he’s with. Apologies to the soccer fans, but the game is not really high profile, but they’d draw phenominal crowds just to watch him.

    • I hate pies says:

      10:18am | 21/11/12

      Becks is still far better than the hacks in the A League; look at how Del Pierro’s going at Sydney, and he’s gotta be in his 50’s by now

    • AFR says:

      11:33am | 21/11/12

      There is something wrong with a product that requires well past it stars on retirement plans to put bums on seats.

    • Paul says:

      11:57am | 21/11/12

      “Wolverine… although his super powers are more shiny than effective.”

      You have GOT to be kidding!

      Wolverine’s mutation is the ability to insta-heal… through almost anything.  If this isn’t enough the guy doesn’t age (and therefore his knowledge just builds up over time).  Coulpled with this the guy has adamantium knives that come out of his hands FFS!!  I mean, seriously?!

      You cannot tell me that a man who cannot be killed, doesn’t age and has indestrucible knives coming out of his hands isn’t going to be effective in the majority of situations (and the writers of the 9 streams of X-Man comics agree with me).  Sure, he’s at a disadvantage against someone who controls metal, but it’s a paper scissors rock thing.

      Also, think about day to day life with Wolverine around: “I can’t open this can.. Thanks Wolvie”, “Can someone get that child out of a burning building? Great work!”, “My daughter’s boyfriend didn’t bring her home on time…” Well, you get the idea.

      In summary, Wolverine IS an effective X-Man, he is also a leader and a generally nice guy.  You should be thankful for his contributions both to man and mutantkind.

      I can’t believe you wrote this article just to ‘dis Wolverine…

    • Audra Blue says:

      04:13pm | 21/11/12

      And being hot as doesn’t hurt either!

    • D says:

      01:31pm | 21/11/12

      Yawn. Beckham would be the best midfielder in the A-League - and that’s by performance, not promotion. Frankly, he could still play in Europe’s top leagues, should he choose. There are rumours PSG (mega-rich Champions League team) are looking at him - and given his past with Carlo Ancelotti (at Milan 2-3 years ago), that’s one of the few rumours going around at the moment that I’d give credence to.

    • Flutz says:

      03:48pm | 21/11/12

      In general I agree wtih the overall tone of your article.  I do however take issue with “His efforts at AFL remind me of the American Lingerie Football League. Just look pretty and smile for the camera. Thanks champ.”  Have you actually watched the LFL?  Once you get over the (almost lack of) uniforms, these are some seriously talented ladies with some great gridiron skills.


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