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Play along with the fall-out... Introducing: NRL Crisis Bingo.

It’s difficult to ignore the repetitive, and often predictable fall-out from sporting scandals such as the one surrounding disgraced NRL player Mitchell Pearce this week.

Nina Funnell says we’ve seen it all before – so, she’s developed a game.

NRL Crisis Bingo:

NRl Crisis Bingo Nina Funnell DO NOT REUSE
(Image: Supplied via Nina Funnell)

Nina writes…

Yesterday morning I woke up to a number of missed calls from members of the media asking me for my views on the Mitchell Pearce incident. What interests me far more than what Mitchell Pearce did, is the predictable media script that unfolds each and every time a football player violates the rights of another person (or animal).

It usually goes something like this…

First up, there is hours of outrage and analysis. This is usually followed by a contrite apology from the player, but more often than not, the player will apologise to everyone other than the actual victim.

According to the usual script, White Ribbon will then send around the collection plate. And quicker than you can say “PR Opportunity”, money will exchange hands between men. (Interestingly, none of these ‘penance donations’ go to women’s services that directly support those who have experienced abuse or harassment). But no time to think about that now, there is important “awareness raising” work to be done (…and by that, I mean raising awareness about the player’s contrition and redemptive journey.)

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Following this, a male sports commentator will re-frame the incident as being about “alcohol”, conveniently ignoring the advice of experts like Professor Catharine Lumby who make it perfectly clear that “it’s what’s going on in their minds” before they start drinking that’s the real problem.

At this point, a player’s fans will often rally and demand to know why feminist commentators are going so hard on a ‘good bloke’ because, after all, boys will be boys. And poodles shouldn’t wear such skimpy collars in the first place. Or something.

There will be more push-back, and various feminist writers will unpack the victim-blaming and slut-shaming attitudes in comments threads. None of this will be read by actual players.

Instead a siege mentality will set in, and the focus will shift off the details of what actually happened, and a witch hunt will commence for those who leaked the footage and exposed the story in the first place.

Shortly after, a “penance” stint in rehab may or may not be included, depending on the crisis management strategy in play.

As the final phase of this process the incident may well turn up as a sketch on The Footy Show, possibly with a man in a dress playing the girl. It will be clear that the incident will have been reclaimed and absorbed back in to macho Australian culture as little more than a humorous lark.

The player will keep a low profile for 6-18 months as the media attention blows over, before being offered a position on a popular radio network.

A TV network will also air a soft-ball interview where the player will cry. No hard questions will be asked. The redemption narrative will be complete.

Then another player will find themselves in trouble: Rinse and Repeat.