How do you feel about Jesse Ryder's international cricket career?
I first heard the expression "famous for being famous" in the mid-1980s, when Truth sports editor Hedley Mortlock used it to describe Glenda Hughes, a Commonwealth Games shot putter who seemed to be in the news an inordinate amount for no particularly worthy reason.
Upon checking, I see the term originated in the United States in 1961 and was given wider focus when British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge used it in his book, Muggeridge Through The Microphone, in 1967.
It's a good expression, even more relevant in today's multi-media world.
There are so many ways people desperate for publicity can court fame. In the end they become staples of women's magazines and regulars of those "People in the News" social pages photo montages.
But it's all smoke and mirrors.
What, for example, is the reason for the continued media fascination with Sally Ridge, beyond the fact that she married a couple of blokes who were good at sport?
In sport, some athletes seem to receive inordinate attention.
Jesse Ryder and Sonny Bill Williams are two current examples.
Ironically, both have little to say publicly, though they are constantly in the spotlight.
Williams is a very good footballer. He's not in the Conrad Smith-Tana Umaga class, but he has plenty of skill. That doesn't explain the media (and public?) fascination with him.
Is he staying with rugby? Will he return to league? What about his boxing career? What about his love life (a recent girlfriend was Sally Ridge's daughter!)? Is he the first Muslim All Black? What's his latest tattoo?
Williams has team-mates who have achieved much more on the field, but none are capable of generating the publicity he does. Journalists know any story they write about Williams will get a good run.
Ryder has played 18 cricket tests (the same number as Matthew Bell) and has scored 1269 runs (well under Brian Hastings' tally). He's also played 39 one-day internationals (two more than Chris Nevin).
I know he hits the ball sweetly, but that hardly qualifies him for the sort of wall-to- wall coverage he generates.
He has just decided he won't be seeking a New Zealand Cricket contract for next season, which is just as well because he wasn't going to be offered one.
If Richard Hadlee had announced a comeback, the coverage wouldn't have been any more breathless.
Ryder has some issues to sort through, mainly because he has not handled alcohol well at times. He's not alone there, either.
But with Ryder it's always a bigger story.
I'm not saying Williams or Ryder chase publicity. But the situation they're now in, when anything they do is headline news, is baffling.
It's easy to envisage a women's magazine deciding that Sonny Bill Williams taking a holiday in Honolulu would be news worthy of a cover.
Similarly, if Ryder happened to let on that he was going on holiday with a girlfriend, that too would be headline- worthy.
By accident or design, Williams and Ryder are the modern New Zealand sports examples of "famous for being famous", and they've parlayed that publicity into a healthy income. Good for them.
What's most amazing to me is that they've done it despite hardly ever giving a substantial interview.
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- The Wellingtonian
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