Football scandal spreads on internet. Again.
Another day, another footballer caught up in a scandal.
Today it’s Riewoldt fronting the media in defence of explicit pictures a teenager posted on Facebook.
He says he asked the photographer to delete the photos. Smart. He didn’t make sure that happened. Dumb.
He was naked with a camera around in the first place. Even dumber.
In the latest chapter of this unfolding story there are three footballers identified. There’ll apparently be more pictures to come, thanks to a young, angry woman.
Will footballers ever learn?
Probably not. But it’s not just footballers who cock up, and it’s not just men, either.
People are forever doing stupid things, especially when there’s alcohol or drugs involved.
And more often than not these days, someone takes a picture. And often that picture ends up on the internet, where it can go viral faster than you can say “put your shorts back on, mate”.
But there are very good reasons footballers and rugby players are overrepresented (overexposed, you could say).
People in tightly knit teams, who work and play together for hours every day, form their own strange little communities.
There’s something about being in a unit that leads to a sense of invulnerability.
Armies, even those with the strictest discipline, easily fall into antisocial behaviour (antisocial being a complete understatement when you think of the raping and pillaging of armies past).
Subcultures quickly form their own sets of rules, and normalise behaviour that is weird to the outside world.
Sports teams become a multi-headed beast, where you find your justification within the team, without reference to societal norms.
So one starts something, the rest follow. They are trained to work together.
Any hesitation disappears thanks to alcohol and the approving laughter of teammates.
This sense of being special, distinct from mere mortals, is heightened by fame, by the worship of fans, by the slavish adoration of groupies.
This fame is a double-edged sword. It’s why they act as though they are beyond rules, and it’s why whenever they caught the results flood the media.
It’s why we know Miley Cyrus smoked a bong (although I’m not really sure we should care).
You could look at Facebook any Monday morning and see incriminating pics of dozens of people. But Joe Public wouldn’t give a shit about most of them, whereas he cares, deeply, about footballers and rugby players.
This fame is also why we get to see men acting badly more often than women.
Over a couple of decades playing women’s sport, I can vouch for the fact that the ladies are not shy about getting boozed and getting their kit off.
But you don’t see as many explicit pics of prominent sportswomen, because they mostly do not have the breathtaking self assurance that comes with being revered.
Some of our female national team players are not even professionals. They’re doing jobs on the side, which to an extent keeps them in touch with real life.
The vast majority of them are nowhere near as famous as the men, thanks to less sponsorship and less television coverage. They lack the star power.
Here, there’s also a much more mundane storyline as well. Girl hurt by man seeks revenge. An age-old story.
This tale will go on, with more embarrassing revelations. There’s a toxic mix here of fame and sex and rejection.
Stay tuned. If you care.
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