Saturation point for scandals
Too much of a bad thing is creating fatigue among fans
It’s hard to be shocked, titillated,
outraged and judgmental seven
days a week.
There’s an easy way the NRL players can take scandal out of their scandal-soaked sport. Stop making sex tapes and going on alcohol and/or substance-fuelled rampages.
There’s another easy way they can take scandal out of the NRL.
Make more sex tapes, and go on even more rampages.
I jest, to a degree, but not completely.
Bulldogs prop Dylan Napa — whose dad Stan played for Otahuhu and Auckland in the 1970s — is the latest player to be hauled before the court of public opinion, after a video or videos showing him in an allegedly “lewd act” made it on to the internet. Oh no, not another sex tape. Yawn. How long will the impact of these things last? Mass social media usage and constant news updates have exploded and it already feels like an exhaustion point is looming for digesting subjects such as stars behaving badly/oddly.
I have a lot of sympathy for Napa, because the video is apparently four or five years old, his privacy and trust seemingly breached.
But the damage to Napa may be limited by another factor.
There is so much reporting of scandalous behaviour by sports stars and other famous people that it’s getting to the point where it doesn’t feel scandalous anymore.
It’s hard to be shocked, titillated, outraged and judgmental seven days a week.
(The same applies to public apologies — famous people are having to make so many of them that they don’t register any more, no matter how genuine they might be).
But if constant coverage of bad behaviour is dampening the sense of outrage, it is still distorting the state of sport.
There was an interesting contribution to media studies in the
last year, one which feels particularly relevant to league.
The opinion piece was adapted from a bestseller by Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor and writer on human nature.
Pinker wrote: “Plane crashes always make the news, but car crashes, which kill far more people, almost never do.
“Not surprisingly, many people have a fear of flying, but almost no one has a fear of driving.”
In short, there is something called Availability heuristic in which the ease in recalling instances of something happening leads to “people (overestimating) how likely it is in the world”.
Pinker also wrote there was a general media trend of reporting more negative news over the years, partly because it is easy. Bad things often happen quick, good things are often slow burners.
“News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen,” he wrote.
“We never see a journalist saying to the camera ‘I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out’.”
League is a brilliant case study in this, such a magnet for the reporting of so-called bad player behaviour that it’s hard to get a realistic handle on what the true state of the sport is anymore.
And yet while league’s image takes another alleged bashing, it also feels as if the scandal factor is reaching an exhaustion point.
There will always be an audience for the sleazy. But the public’s eyes are starting to glaze over. The impact of these Napa-type stories has become diluted.
The planet is awash with famous people acting crazy, and we can no longer take it all in.
Dylan Napa’s lewd acts on tape are likely to be soon forgotten, argues Chris Rattue.