media and sport

Crime and punishment

It seems odd to me that Matthew Johns could engage in dubious, but legal, conduct and lose his job – and future employability – on that basis. He’ll probably never work in the areas he was, until today, employed in again. Fair? I’m not so sure.

What Johns did wasn’t nice. It was wrong by most definitions of the word, and It will cost the NRL money, it will cost Channel Nine money. But the media witch hunt has been appalling.

It seems particularly hypocritical for the network that brought us “turkey slapping” to stick a turkey with a microphone under John’s nose at an airport demanding an apology on behalf of a girl the reporter doesn’t know and has never met.

It also seems somewhat hypocritical for Australia’s leading newspapers to run such a witch hunt while they have these stories driving their online advertising revenue:

hotnews

Update: Matthew Johns has now apologised to the woman in question in a pretty contrite interview with ACA (reported here).

“Johns, who was earlier stood down indefinitely from Channel Nine and the Melbourne Storm, said the incident was morally wrong but claimed the woman involved was not acting against her will.

“I did not commit an act of abuse to that woman,” Johns said in the taped interview with A Current Affair. “I am guilty of infidelity to my wife and guilty of absolute stupidity.”

“I would say that on the night when she came back to the room, she was a willing participant in everything that occurred.”

He also said that he was unaware of the effect the incident had caused the woman since the night, which he apologised for.

“Any trauma and embarrassment that she’s gone through as a result of this I’m extremely sorry for.”

Bird’s eye view

We’ve been watching a lot of tennis lately. Tennis is one of those games that you watch and find yourself thinking “it doesn’t look that hard” which progresses to “we should do that for a job.” The answer to those statements is “it is” and “we shouldn’t”. 

I did have tennis lessons as a child. I spent more time running punishment laps of the tennis court than holding a racquet – and subsequently don’t know my forehand from my forehead. Robyn is much more proficient when it comes to the skills involved but I’ve got the edge on brute strength and am prone to hitting the ball as hard as I can male, so we’re pretty evenly matched when we play. The Australian Open inspires a renewed vigour for the game every year – last year we bought racquets so maybe this year we’ll buy some sweat bands or something.

But I digress. I wanted to mention Hawkeye – which is an interesting case of technology driven by television companies being integrated into sport. Traditionally television companies interactions with sport have been to the detriment of tradition – eg World Series Cricket, Super League and 20/20 cricket.

Progress is not always good. Especially when it comes to eliminating human error in judicial administration of the rules of the game.

Cricket coverage lead the way in terms of calling umpire’s decisions into question – snicko, cricket’s hawkeye for LBWs, and hotspot – not to mention ultra slow motion repetitions of run out decisions.

The bane of Rugby League watching in recent years has been the time taken for video referee decisions.  

The desire for accuracy is in my mind an imperative based not on ensuring the players get a fair go – but insuring that the punters do. I mean punters in the literal “gambling” sense – not just fans. The amount of money riding on every game of professional sport could fund the bailout of a small financial institution so it’s increasingly important to get things right.

Robyn is all for Hawkeye in tennis – she says it encourages players to boldly aim for the lines – knowing they can make a challenge if a call doesn’t go the right way. I’m not sold, and neither it seems are the players. Particularly after hawkeye was thawrted by a bit of shade today.

Two final comments on this long post – firstly – did you know Hawkeye was invented by a man named Hawkins? I always thought the name was based on hawk’s legendary optic capacity and the fact that you’re getting a “birds eye view”. 

Secondly, I think Birdseye’s decision to sponsor Hawkeye was a brilliant piece of product endorsement. 

Here endeth the lesson.

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