COMMENT

There's an easy way the NRL players can take scandal out of their scandal-soaked sport.

Stop making sex tapes and going on alcohol/substance-fuelled rampages.

There's another easy way they can take scandal out of the NRL.

Advertisement

Make more sex tapes, and go on even more rampages.

I jest, to a degree, but not completely.

Bulldogs prop Dylan Napa - whose dad Stan played for Otahuhu and Auckland in the 1970s - is the latest player to be hauled before the court of public opinion, after a video or videos showing him in an allegedly "lewd act" made it onto the internet.

Oh no, not another sex tape. Yawn.

How long will the impact of these things last? Mass social media usage and constant news updates have exploded and it already feels like an exhaustion point is looming for digesting subjects such as stars behaving badly/oddly.

I have a lot of sympathy for Napa, because the video is apparently four or five years old, his privacy and trust seemingly breached.

But the damage to Napa may be limited by another factor.

Dylan Napa (with ball)...the big hitter has been hit by a video nasty. Photo / Photosport
Dylan Napa (with ball)...the big hitter has been hit by a video nasty. Photo / Photosport

There is so much reporting of scandalous behaviour by sports stars and other famous people that it's getting to the point where it doesn't feel scandalous anymore.

It's hard to be shocked/titillated/outraged/judgmental seven days a week.

(The same applies to public apologies — famous people are having to make so many of them that they don't register any more, no matter how genuine they might be).

But if constant coverage of bad behaviour is dampening the sense of outrage, it is still distorting the state of sport.

There was an interesting contribution to media studies in the Guardian last year, one which feels particularly relevant to league.

The opinion piece was adapted from a bestseller by Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor and writer on human nature.

Pinker wrote: "Plane crashes always make the news, but car crashes, which kill far more people, almost never do.

"Not surprisingly, many people have a fear of flying, but almost no one has a fear of driving."

In short, there is something called Availability heuristic in which the ease in recalling instances of something happening leads to "people (overestimating) how likely it is in the world".

Pinker also wrote there was a general media trend of reporting more negative news over the years, partly because it is easy. Bad things often happen quick, good things are often slow burners.

"News is about things that happen, not things that don't happen," he wrote.

"We never see a journalist saying to the camera 'I'm reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out'."

League is a brilliant case study in this, such a magnet for the reporting of so-called bad player behaviour that it's hard to get a realistic handle on what the true state of the sport is anymore.

And yet while league's image takes another alleged bashing, it also feels as if the scandal factor is reaching an exhaustion point.

There will always be an audience for the sleazy. But the public's eyes are starting to glaze over. The impact of these Napa-type stories has become diluted.

The planet is awash with stories about famous people acting crazy, and we can no longer take it all in.

NAMING RIGHTS...Maori sports story the talk of America

There's a hard luck sports story sweeping around America which involves Maori - as in Maori Davenport, a young girl caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare.

ESPN, Deadspin, all the major networks and newspapers, sports legends like Kobe Bryant and Billie Jean King - they are all talking about Maori.

The Alabama school girl has been stood down for her senior basketball season after leading Team USA to gold in the FIBA under-18 Americas championship.

Maori was mistakenly sent a cheque for $1250 by USA Basketball to cover her expenses. Cashing it meant Davenport broke amateur school rules according to the Alabama High School Sports Association.

Everybody apart from the AHSSA is on the Davenport's side, and the family has had an early win in court.

We wondered if the girl at the centre of this storm was a rising star with New Zealand links.

Her mum Tara Davenport — a teacher and volunteer basketball coach — put us straight. She had not heard of New Zealand's indigenous people when she named her daughter.

"I actually just used all the letters in her dad's name Mario," Tara Davenport told the NZ Herald, about inventing Maori's name.

However, the New Zealand connection was later pointed out to Tara by her best friend.