Sat­u­ra­tion point for scan­dals

Too much of a bad thing is cre­at­ing fa­tigue among fans

Whanganui Chronicle - - Sport - Chris Rattue com­ment

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.

Photo / Getty Im­ages

Dy­lan Napa’s lewd acts on tape are likely to be soon for­got­ten, ar­gues Chris Rattue.

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