January 21, 2013 by Doug Coutts
Since when does a young boofhead getting pissed make the national news? If he’s an All Black, apparently – it’s a huge enough story to keep even Lance Armstrong off the front page.
Getting on the piss is the worst crime in the world if you are an elite athlete in New Zealand. “Elite” has a rather different definition here – it means you are paid gazillions to advertise clothing ranges and bottle water, as opposed to elsewhere in the world where it implies you have a bit of class.
New Zealand’s elite athletes have little class. They’ll do anything for money, anything to remain in the spotlight, anything to avoid having to do regular work. The upside is having truckloads of cash delivered to your door on a daily basis and being surrounded by people who tell you you’re really great, while the downside is those same people will back off in a real hurry if you look like you’re about to damage their brand. And they’ll take their trucks with them.
Just the other day some larrikin, who’d otherwise be a petty crim or a deadbeat if he didn’t have some ability with a footy, drank too much and did some stuff at a party. Exactly what he did no one’s saying, but they’re hinting strongly that it was serious enough to get him kicked out of his team. He’s not in trouble with the law – not yet anyway – but he’s in deep shit with rugby’s governing body, which is, as everyone knows, the highest court in the land.
Rugby used to be merely a religion but it’s much more important these days. Run by marketers instead of enthusiasts, it’s a business worth a lot of money, but increasingly incapable of dragging people through the turnstiles.
Just like cricket. Cricket’s been reinventing itself almost on a daily basis for the last 40 years, in a desperate attempt to turn it from a game people enjoy into a series of bankable events. And that’s worked as well for cricket as it has for rugby – the stands are empty. Luckily cricket has its own boofhead with a drinking problem.
Sports administrators secretly like the boofhead who can’t handle his booze. He’s someone they can blame for bringing the game into disrepute, someone they can sacrifice on the altar of brand protection and someone they can safely discard if need be as long as they can honestly say they did all they could. (The definition of “Honestly” in the sports world is different to that in mainstream English, just ask Lance.)
As they so rightly put it, you have to be seen to making an effort. Whether you do or not is between you and your barman.