Being a massive fan of Ben Cousins as a footballer, it was hard watching the public destruction of his football career through the media exhibition of his personal failings from 2005 -2008. Through his documentary “Such is Life” this week we got to see and hear his side and take of events. Much was said and shown about drugs and addiction and the part it played in his and the Eagles fall from grace. What was missed in the wash up in and particularly all the discussion around it, was other forgotten and seemingly excusable “addictions”.
Football, Winning, Obsession with Celebrity & Money
Ben loved football too much so much that it was everything to him. While I was glad for his sake he was able to return to football with Richmond, it was disheartening that it was presumed that literally his life depended on it – and his rehabilitation. That’s not to mention the all consuming focus of the game he was weened on from childhood. Ben hardly had a balanced life and childhood. Football, training like a demon and then reward or party time.
Eagles management, still to this day remain unaccountable for the years of cover up and neglect of Ben and the behaviour of other player’s even before him. And all the other clubs are the same. Great players, winning players are afforded a blind eye. In recent years an over sized media led obsession with the exposition of the personal lives of footballers has forced clubs and the AFL to rattle out “Brand Protection” and “Disrepute” protection measures. Hollow measures, statements and policies which are ironically as shallow as the media’s actual human care factor. Measures which are more about being “seen to be doing” something.
Couple this with the hypocrisy of the AFL, the corporations sponsoring it and sporting culture. Beer brands take naming rights to grand finals in a sporting culture of rewarding victory with alcohol celebration from junior football to the top. Then to be indignantly surprised at the dysfunctional consequences of players who go off the rails. Is it really that a wonder that “Bens” get churned out? When the shit hits the fan, these brands panic to drop a sponsorship to protect their image – which is what exactly? Check out what they sell, their corporate citizenship. Purely that the AFL regularly uses terms such as “brand” and “markets” just shows how far disconnected from its origins this sport has become.
Why are we all so interested in celebrity? The media will say they are just giving us what we want, what sells papers. It’s a confusing “which came first the chicken or the egg” boggle. I truly don’t care to know personal stuff about footballers on the front page or leading news story. Being first to a story shows just how much more you care right? Are we all that obsessed with and take pleasure in seeing a “famous” person fail? Famous for what exactly?
Somehow if we have angels for footballers then we can save our society? Why does the AFL see itself as playing such a huge role in moral issues? Why do we, the general public feel we own the players and deserve apologies when they screw up? The same general public who in the same sentence gasp in horror when another girl goes missing, abducted – and inquire what time is CSI on tonight? Not to mention the same pissed swearing and ranting punter you see in the crowd amongst the children the AFL is adamant they are protecting.
And Money.. yes that’s just too obvious. The implicit link and blood which feeds all of this.