*Another week, another episode of bad behaviour allegations levelled against a sports personality. Portuguese and Juventus winger Cristiano Ronaldo is fighting allegations sexual misconduct in the US. Ronaldo has been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who says the player assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. Ronaldo has denied the accusation and it remains to be seen whether he’s going to be found guilty or not.”
Cristiano’s case is one of the many cases of sports personalities caught in bad behaviour and personal conduct – on and off the pitch and tracks. That leads to the question, have we had such cases of immoral conduct from sports greats in the continent? The answer is a lot! And another question would be what exactly is it that causes this sort of behaviour – and how might we prevent it in the future?
Human behaviour experts believe that majority of players cannot always be relied upon to discipline themselves. In late August, Kenyan athlete Asbel Kiprop who specialises in the 1500 metres race was exposed on social media with photos and video recordings of him having intimate relations with his friend’s wife.
It doesn’t affect athletes only. Coaches and team managers have previously been implicated in scandals. Four years ago, Uganda’s parliament opened a probe into an alleged sex abuse of elite female runners from the national team by a top coach. It was reported that female runners were subjected to sexual harassment and abuse while participating in a training camp to prepare for last Africa Cross-country Championships in 2014.
The immorality goes to other issues like drug abuse, doping and violent behaviour.
But what triggers this undignified behaviour?
It’s hard to know, and the reasons also vary from one person to another.
Here’s an excerpt from an article by Ken Jones, a veteran sports writer for the Independent Newspaper: It reads;
“The attitude of professional sportsmen generally is shaped by the fact that they are men playing a boys game. It is a world of relentless mickey taking and juvenile pranks. The principal topics of conversation in dressing- rooms are money and sex. Players who read books are viewed with deep suspicion.”
Ken Jones also quotes huge salaries and superiority complex as another reason that triggers poor conduct by sportsmen. He also argues that many of these elite footballers are thrust into the national spotlight while still teenagers, and given boatloads of money at an unsafe age.
But on the other hand, today’s sports stars are living not merely in a bubble but rather in a state of constant surveillance: filmed on mobile phones, stories for the front pages as well as the back, misadventures in a million inboxes and timelines before those newspapers can even come out.
If it happens, we will hear about it within hours. Wayward sports stars are often criticised for being terrible role models. They are expected to display an unimpeachable morality. Fair or not fair, that’s something they should understand. Ultimately it’s their responsibility to adjust their public conduct accordingly.
Be upset. Be disappointed. But do not be shocked.