The Bingle effect …

Lara Bingle in cricket attire

I was reading an interview with Candace Bushnell a few weeks ago in the Sydney Morning Herald. She was being interviewed about her new book ‘One Fifth Avenue’ which is about a 19 year old whose life is shaped by ‘Sex and the City’ which for those of who have been living under a rock, is a television series based on a series of columns written by Bushnell in The New York Observer. What struck me in particular is what she said in the article about Australia.

“I have spent time in London and Australia and Canada. Those are places where you are not supposed to blow your own horn and they seem to really resent that and in their perception Americans will blow their own horns and they are boastful.

“There is something twisted about that, as well. It is not always healthy to tear down the successful members of your society – it tears down everybody.”

The tall poppy syndrome is well documented in Australia. Australians revel in making fun of international celebrities like Kylie Minogue who are revered and celebrated in other countries but sport stars are treated like royalty and can do no wrong.

Shane Warne can bed hundreds of women, Greg Bird allegedly glassed his girlfriend’s face and three members of three Bronco players are facing rape allegations. All this in the last few months.

It has always interested me how sports stars are pressured to have long term relationships or get married early all in the name of creating a family atmosphere but the reality seems anything but as sports players are probably better known for cheating on their girlfriends and wives.

Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with being young, free and single. I often wonder why these football players need or are encouraged to have a female figure in their life but this may have more to do with their insecurities, their inability to be alone and desire to fit in or simply wanting to have a date for the Brownlow Cup.

The sport’s stars girlfriends and wives are not exempt from making the news either. Brodie Holland’s girlfriend, Sarita Stella was fined $500 for her role in a fracas outside the Billboards nightclub over a taxi cab and Lara Bingle allegedly had a string of affairs with married or taken men. Bingle became a PR dream when she became engaged to cricketeer Michael Clarke and is now being groomed as the first lady of cricket, previous indiscretions well and truly forgotten.

I blame the advertisers and the sponsors who care about the game than the individuals that these players are hurting. There were recent reports of Greg Bird personally ringing up his sponsors and asking them to talk to the media about overturning his ban. There is power in the mighty dollar and sponsors need to be careful about how they wield that power and the glorification of sport stars by the media.

Australian sport has a culture of binge drinking, degradation of women and drug abuse. Is this something as a nation that we should be proud of? Forget about doing charitable works, saving children from third world countries although this did work somewhat for fading star Angelina Jolie when she stole Brad off Jennifer … all you need to do to redeem yourself is become or marry a sport’s star. Problem solved.

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