Last Sunday, the Sun-Herald (the Sunday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald) published its list of the 20 most fascinating people in sport. A fairly decent read all up, even if you might not have agreed with all the choices. That is, after all, the point of any top-x list, to get people to disagree with the publication’s picks.
As a companion piece, it published the 10 least fascinating people in sport – a photo gallery with bitchy one-liners captions like “dishwater is no longer the world’s dullest thing” and “let’s just say she needs to improve her image”. Not hard-hitting journalism, but a good page filler for a Sunday.
A good newspaper would give plenty of coverage to the fascinating people and pretty much ignore the unfascinating ones. You would think. So let’s compare the lists of most and least fascinating sportspeople with the number of times they were mentioned on the smh.com.au website, according to Google.
|Most fascinating people||Number of mentions on smh.com.au||Least fascinating people||Number of mentions on smh.com.au|
|Wayne Bennett||43,000||Tiger Woods||63,000|
|Serena Williams||26,400||Andy Murray||46,000|
|Kevin Sheedy||22,800||Pim Verbeek||39,500|
|Michael Schumacher||19,400||Andrew Demetriou||29,500|
|Steve Waugh||16,500||Samantha (or Sam) Stosur||20,780|
|Bart Cummings||14,100||Des Hasler||15,100|
|Gai Waterhouse||13,000||Stephanie Rice||9,800|
|Peter de Villiers||8,070||Tim Nielsen||9,510|
|Muhammad Ali||5,530||Karrie Webb||5,930|
|Ljubo Milicevic||4,230||Mike Tyson||3,600|
|Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis||163|
So, here we see one the least fascinating people in sport, Tiger Woods, is mentioned on the SMH website 63,000 times. By contrast Wayne Bennett, the most fascinating of the fascinating sportspeople is only mentioned 43,000 times. Even the dramatically unfascinating Mike Tyson gets 3,600 mentions, more than eight of the supposedly most fascinating people in sport. By this measure, he is 22 times more interesting than snooker player Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis.
I think the message for the Sun-Herald, and sports journalists in general, is crystal. If these people are so fascinating, why do we never hear about them from you? Are you bad at your jobs or just hoarding the fascinating people for yourselves like precious treasures?
And more to the point, if these other people are so fucking boring, stop writing about them.