(Age newspaper column had a little bit of a snip for formatting reasons as published. Version here is as written. )
Landing In The Poop – A Handy Guide For Sport Stars
Athletes, along with musicians, politicians and actors, have a rare aptitude for getting themselves in monumental bother in a spectacularly public way.
Nonetheless, it may be helpful to remind younger sportspeople of the kinds of activities they can pursue if they yearn for the kind of pungent notoriety that essentially has nothing to do with sport, yet will guarantee them prime position on the wrong end of a humongous media barrage.
* Go out drinking. The demon rum and a public setting is the very recipe for a major whoopsie, good for a pretty fair lathering in papers, websites and all electronic media. There seems no conceivable reason why drugs wouldn’t work just as well. Throwing driving into the equation takes any remaining element of chance out of it – i.e. everybody involved is, proverbially speaking, going to hell in a hand-basket. Even a vehicle alone, sans the chugalug element, has proven a challenge to many footballers, regardless of code. Memorably, John Terry, anxious to depart from the adoring faithful at Chelsea one evening, engaged the accelerator and drove straight over a security guard’s foot.
* Costume parties. These are rife with opportunities, particularly for those less keenly attuned to more modern sensibilities, i.e. anything that happened in race relations after about 1940. As recent events have confirmed – the curiosity being that anybody needed this confirmed – the ancient showbiz practice of adopting “blackface” generally garners plenty of attention, of the kind that sees citizens scowling and brandishing their fists in the air, in the manner of Colonel Klink from “Hogan’s Heroes”. Speaking of which, the adoption of Nazi-themed regalia by any celebrity has never noticeably failed to kick up an almighty poop-storm.
* Animals. The thespians of yesteryear insisted one should never work with them. This wisdom seems particularly germane to the rugby league fraternity.
* Nudity and related improprieties. Obviously, one person’s photo is now EVERYBODY’S photo. Check that you still have pants, and even better, that they are on. Preferably, not on your head.