Another summer: another footballer scandal. There is a pattern emerging here and it’s not pretty. Take a pack of testosterone-charged young men with obscenely large disposable incomes, public idolisation and little responsibility or capacity to make decisions based on common sense or foresight, mix with unlimited amounts of alcohol and admiring young women and you are asking for trouble.
The latest scandal involves a 17 year-old girl who claims to have become pregnant as a result of a relationship with a St Kilda footballer, Sam Gilbert. The girl claims that after he became aware of her pregnancy Gilbert ended their relationship; she either miscarried or gave birth to a still-born baby or miscarried one of a set of twins and the other was still-born (depending on which report you’re reading) and is now exacting revenge by posting naked photos of Gilbert’s teammates on the internet. She claims the men posed for the photos, they claim (and seem to have the evidence to back it up) that Gilbert took the photos on an end of season trip and that they have never met the girl.
As footballer scandals go, ‘Dickileaks’, as it’s been dubbed (cute!), is pretty murky. On the one hand we have the multi-million dollar empire that is St Kilda Football Club taking legal action against a schoolgirl and crying about ‘ruined careers’ – although it’s unclear how having their dicks exposed to a global Facebook audience will adversely affect these guys’ ability to kick a football. On the other hand we have a young woman, described as having an ‘on again off again relationship with her parents’, who is using photos she apparently downloaded from Gilbert’s laptop computer (surely there are privacy issues here) to embarrass men who (they claim) she has never met. It is also alleged that she approached the club and demanded a large sum of money for the photos after having her attempts to get them published via the conventional media rejected.
There are a lot of claims and allegations going on here, with the AFL predictably standing by the club and the footballers concerned. The girl’s relationship with her parents is significant – they have remained totally silent and out of the picture, although it appears she is holidaying with them at time of writing. If she was not living with them at the time of the affair with Gilbert and the alleged pregnancy, who was she turning to for advice and counsel? She is effectively on her own facing down the might of the AFL with its army of expensive barristers. Her preferred form of communication is via Twitter and increasingly she seems to be reveling in the attention. She has not and cannot be named due to her age and the anonymity is a shield. The footballers, on the other hand, are public figures and must wear the humiliation publicly. They’re paid a huge amount to be public figures, this goes with the territory and if they were totally blameless there would be no problem.
Needless to say, everyone has an opinion on this. Among the more interesting, one guy I correspond with ranted that it’s all a big exercise in man-bashing (as in, they’re all irresponsible bastards) and the only way to stop this sort of thing happening is for us to live more communally and talk to our neighbours. For what it’s worth, I talked to my neighbours. They said the girl is a little tart who is just out for attention and money and probably lied about the pregnancy as well.
For his part, Gilbert says he has ‘learned a hard lesson’. A hard lesson! Son, you deserve to be smacked around the ears with a cricket stump! First there are the nudie pics of your mates. Sure, have some fun, take some snaps but don’t leave them on your laptop for your girlfriend, or anyone else for that matter, to see or download for future attempts at extortion. Grow some decency, respect and simple common sense. Second, there’s the relationship and pregnancy. Even if she was prepared to have unprotected sex, you should have known better and ditching a girl when she gets up the duff … yeah, classy. Consequences, implications, public profile … think, son, think! Life is not all a bloody football game.
I do feel a little bit sorry for Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo, who have been splashed, in all their glory, across computer screens around the country, but had they not posed for the photos in the first place there would be no photos displayed. Riewoldt said he was unaware the photo had not been deleted as he had requested, in which case, it comes back to Gilbert’s lack of respect. The girl says she has nude photos of another 19 Saints players, which raises a small question of what they were actually doing on that end of season trip, but she has been barred by the court from any further release of photos. Thank god. There’s only so many dicks one wants exposure to over Christmas and lord knows there were enough of them on the road this morning.