Looking to footy stars for moral lessons is a piss-take

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
June 30, 2014 /

Click here to view original /

There’s an interesting angle to be plundered here about the mainstreaming of sexual fetishes. After all, when footballers – those great and powerful gods of the grass – are dabbling in public urine play, surely it’s a sign that the kink has well and truly gone global?

As a sex researcher, I think there’s an important point to be made here about Todd Carney once again doing his bit to popularise water sports. Kind of like the AFL’s Jarryd Blair work, say, in mainstreaming the love-making technique known as The Shocker back in 2011.

But I’ll spare you 700 words about urine play. I accept, begrudgingly, that not everyone shares my interest in the full and fantastically filthy spectrum of sexuality. Instead, I’m going to focus on the great and powerful gods bit. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to defend that golden shower scallywag, Todd Carney.

So Carney, of rugby fame, of drink-driving and pants-burning infamy, has seemingly chosen to give a wide berth to the urinal trough and instead directed the steaming stream at his face.

Not preserved merely as a private-time wind-down activity, Carney managed to get photographed in flagrante. No doubt inebriated – and I’m going to guess beer was his poison of choice – for reasons hinged on odour and quantity, it’s worth noting that this feat was one accomplished in the face of grave, grave adversity.

The prank changes in each incarnation, but the sodden ballplayer shenanigans story is hardly a new one. Both of my favourites trace back to 2010, a year I like to think of as a golden age in footballer folly.

Back in 2010, rugby’s Joel Monaghan gave new meaning to the concept of man’s best friend and proved that he was an equal opportunist when it came to fellatio. That same year, the AFL’s Nick Riewoldt proudly displayed that the back, sack and crack wax was well and truly de rigueur and proved that no matter one’s size, there’s always pride to be gleaned from a schlong.

Stories such as Carney’s are, of course, fabulous teaching examples of the power and perils of social media and the brutal electronic-footprint consequence of recording the minutiae of one’s life.

My interest, however, is the predictable and oh so painfully boring public outrage that inevitably follows such a scandal.

Ours is a culture that holds athletes in mind-blowingly high esteem. The ability to kick long, to kick far, to run fast, are considered admirable, enviable and praise-worthy attributes.

More than just praising athletes, however, we have a compulsion to elevate them to the status of role models. Rather than just quietly admiring their talents, instead, we tie the proverbial millstone around their neck and ask them to set a standard. To be good boys. To be upstanding citizens. To be nice and well-spoken and sweet and sober.

And here’s where things can go awry. It’s not enough for these men to perform well on the pitch/in the pool/on the track. We want them to be our idols 24/7.

We bestow on these incredibly young men the burden of being gentlemen, our moral beacons, our barely-out-of-nappies statesmen and in our celebrity-obsessed culture we then take disproportionate interest in their private lives, making greedy mileage of modern technology to monitor them, scrutinise them and broadcast their every failure.

Truth be told, I don’t know what makes a man imbibe to the point where urinating on his own face seems like a quality idea. Equally, I don’t really care.

I care, however, that we – the press, the fans, the commentators – create the disproportionate reverence around them. Equally, we’re the ones who apply undue pressure on them to meet our fickle standards and we’re the ones to call for punishment when they fail us.

We shouldn’t care whether footballers – or, for that matter, politicians or actors or butchers/bakers/candlestick makers – are nice people or are good people in whichever curious way we’re now defining it. Provided that laws/rules/bones aren’t broken, we should be judging work product – judging what’s done on the field – and that alone.

We need to lower our expectations of athletes being anything more to us than entertainers and cease treating them as demi-gods sent from the heavens to bedazzle our lives of tedium of drudgery. We need to accept that they are kids, that they are fallible, and that, ultimately, they run around a bit for money.

Expecting anything more of them will just lead to disappointment on our part and a Stilnox dependency for them.

© Lauren Rosewarne