Next, there’ll be a sacrificial lamb: a rogue player, or rogue doctor, rogue sports scientist, rogue club servant.
‘This is not what we’re about.’
‘We’re just as shocked as anyone.’
The government will put the onus on the competition bosses to get their houses in order. The bosses will put the onus on the clubs. The clubs will put the onus on the players.
Talk will be about regaining the lost faith of the public and sponsors. Hearts and minds of the kids.
The pre-season comp will start. Albeit even flatter and more hollow than usual with even more empty seats. The Commentators will pump it up. ‘It’s back!!’ But when it gets boring commentators will talk of the ‘scandal’. Until they’re told not to.
A new challenger will emerge and receive all the attention. (While the others deliberately under perform.)
‘Maybe it’s their year?’
And the real season will begin. Albeit a bit flatter and more hollow than usual. Some fans will stay away, others will come out of habit, some will refuse to listen to the rumours.
Focus will switch and fade. A few close games, some heroics will breathe life into the season. And the fans will return and we breathe a sigh of relief and roll on.
And a selfish, young player will put contract negotiations on hold to avoid distraction during the season, but really so he can bleed dry the clubs begging for his services.
And the dance will begin around him.
Winter will set in and we’ll have the sniffles and complain about the cold.
There will be off-field indiscretions: speed driving, drink driving, or a player caught pissing down a lane way or in a compromising position with a TV chef.
‘Don’t they know they’re role models?’
A B-grade celebrity will tweet ‘shit’ and afterwards cry and plead for forgiveness. There will be a celebrity marriage, baby, divorce. And society’s fabric will unravel.
A death in Afghanistan. A royal death. A mass shooting in the US. We’ll be saddened. Appalled. Shocked. Shaken.
Numb, we’ll move on.
And the team that emerged in March has dropped off and the usuals will assume their race for the finals.
The investigation will end. The inquiry will strongly recommend changes to gambling, advertising and testing rules. And the government will promise to consider them all – in time. But the onus will be on sporting bodies who put the onus on clubs who put the onus on players – to do the right thing. To be seen to be doing the right thing.
The weekend will come around again and the club in the spotlight will win a hard fought battle and answer their critics. And the coach will talk about emerging from a dark place, draw a line in the sand and even shed a tear if he can work it up and wipe it on his tight polo shirt.
‘We’re moving on, moving forward, going forward.’
And the finals will come around again and we’ll be excited about that. The scrum will be at training.
‘It’s all about finals now.’
And the player who put negotiations on hold will receive more attention than ever which will distract him and the club more than ever.
And a coach who isn’t going to the big dance will get the tap on the shoulder and he’ll keep the wolves from the door with an impromptu grab on the front lawn as his young daughter watches through the curtains and his wife packs up the garage.
Someone will be offended by Mad Monday.
‘Has Mad Monday has had its day?’
The TV shows will broadcast live from city square or outside the ground with half-drunk players not going to the big dance as special guests.
The big dance will arrive and Shakin’ Stevens will come out of retirement. Or Nik Kershaw. Rick Astley will knock the gig back.
And the two teams will emerge but will be lost in the smoke and the ‘performers’ still on the ground after the ‘pre-game entertainment’. A player will get cleaned up by a segue-way.
But the game will be an epic and Sport will be the winner.
And we’ll roll onto next season.