There has been a measure of media coverage lately concerning the off field shenanigans of one or two practitioners of some variation of oval ball nonsense – or so I’m told. I haven’t taken much notice of it, to be completely honest, but I gather the offense was something along the ‘lines’ of partying at 2am and partaking in Class A narcotics. This appears to have occurred the morning after said practitioners had lost an important (in oval ball nonsense world) game of oval ball nonsense (or some variation of it).
While I tend not to click on headlines about oval ball nonsense in its various manifestations, I have heard a bit of the peripheral commentary that seems to be getting some traction –espousing the opinion that sportspeople shouldn’t be role models.
In particular, I heard a thought provoking sound bite yesterday from a rather fired up bloke by the name of Ray Warren. He said something along the lines of (paraphrasing) if these guys were plumbers, nobody would give a crap (my punning is on fire today) what recreational drugs they took and it wouldn’t be on the news if they were partying at 2am. So why should these guys pay a higher penalty than anyone else?
It’s a good question, and it got me thinking. I knew I disagreed with him but it took me a while to nut out why… Then it came to me.
If Dazza the plumber makes a hash of unblocking a drain, then goes out partying and gets wasted to celebrate, the only person who is likely to care is the poor old client whose drain is still blocked.
Whereas if a footballer, of any code, plays like crap, gets thrashed, then goes out partying to ‘celebrate’, you’d better believe that would be a lot of people’s business!
That hypothetical payer is most likely earning a fortune. He’s literally living the dream and it’s funded, in part, by our obsession with buying replica shirts every year. And more importantly it’s funded by the hundreds of thousands of people who pay to watch him play live and those tens of millions of other poor saps who shell out for pay TV subscriptions all over the world. They all have a stake in his performance.
WE PAID FOR THAT COKE MAN!!! So, with all due respect, if you don’t want to be held to a higher standard than a plumber you’re perfectly welcome to bugger off and be a plumber.
The wider question of whether sports people should be role models at all is slightly more tricky. I saw Mark Richardson rant about this on Facebook today – “I won’t raise your kids for you!”
Where it’s tricky is the fact that I’m not a prude. I am a touchy feely pinko soft-on-crime liberal lefty peacenik but not a prude. I genuinely don’t care what drugs people want to do. And where I do have some sympathy for the guys in the current spotlight is I reckon league players suffer from a bit more moral outrage than rugby players do for similar offences – and that’s not fair.
But setting all that aside, you can’t tell me that sports people aren’t or shouldn’t be role models. Nobody makes them role models, they just are simply because they are famous and kids look up to them. There’s no point Mark Richardson berating adults about it, he needs to try aiming his tirade at the kids who love their sporting heroes and want to be just like them when they grow up – good luck with that. I doubt any six year-old is going to start snorting lines with their play lunch because a couple of league players were in the news for it and of course if they did you would have to ask their parents a few hard questions! But that doesn’t absolve sporting role models of any moral obligations to model good behaviour to those who look up to them.
Nobody is asking you to bring up their kids Mark, but like it or not being a high profile athlete comes with extra responsibilities that plumbers don’t have. Sorry not sorry.
Categories: Off Topic
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.