SYDNEY - Like many of my fellow footy fans, I have read and viewed several news stories of late across different mediums and publications about the reckless, irresponsible and downright stupid behaviour young male athletes, primarily footballers, continue to display on a fairly regular basis.
Some might say this is just boys being boys - others say it's an institutionalised part of footy culture that has suddenly become a problem (hasn't it always been one?) and that we should remove or at least try and change it in some positive way.
Alcohol abuses, gambling problems, drug use, offensive behaviour towards women, breaking the law - the cases are mounting, both in number and severity, despite all the bad press they receive. Let me say now, I am not implying the media is faultless - of course they can be relentless in chasing a headline even if there isn't one. Yet there is no denying that many of the recent incidents involving high profile football players across a variety of codes have indeed occurred, with many of these responsible "men" or "role models" wanting to wear the victim label square across their foreheads.
I had to chuckle when I learned that one particular repeat offender claimed the reason he had to relocate overseas (yes, move countries) is that the media portrayed him unfairly and chased him out of town. Forget the fact that the reason he was so present in the mind of the media and the public was because he continually put himself there. I think I always miss the part where we are supposed to feel sorry for these "professionals"? They put themselves in the public eye as mentors for young players, they visit schools and spend time with kids, they want all the publicity they can get when it suits them - but the moment they do something wrong they want us to pretend they don't exist and excuse them for what they have done.
Is the problem that nobody has made them painfully aware that like every other individual in society they are (or should be) completely accountable for their actions? Do these players lack personal guidance from their managers, colleagues and club officials - or are they just interested in getting a slice of their salary and having them win games for their club? Or are they simply paid too more than they are worth?
Surely someone has to be held responsible for the dangerous attitude that is rapidly spinning out of control in this sporting arena - then again, our society has become accustomed to playing the "it's someone else's fault" card. Why should it be any different in this space?