I hate to call myself a cynical, dried up old bastard. But you spend long enough in this game and well, you know ...
For safety’s sake, and lest there is still a spring of youthful exuberance in me waiting to burst out, let’s just say it’s rare these days that I am shocked by the world of South African football.
Oh, another soccer executive has taken a huge slice of sponsorship cash; Oh, it’s another mediocre Absa Premiership match. Oh, Bafana Bafana have lost to a team they really ought to have beaten. Oh, the Premier Soccer League have just offered R500 000 to a journalist who can win a score-prediction competition. In fact, given that there are three top prizes, across print, radio and television journalism, R1.5-million could, potentially, be handed out.
Hang on a minute! What? R1.5-million? Now you’ve got my attention! This is the same PSL that had to wait up until the last minute to sign new sponsorship deals with both MTN and Absa. But they’ve suddenly got R1.5-million to throw at journalists?
This is the same PSL that has just announced that it’s suspended the National First Division until further notice. But members of the press corps can have R1.5-million, no problem, for a guessing game?
I spent a while, after the press conference to announce this nonsense on Friday, trying to figure out how any journalist could accept R500 000 from the PSL, without their ethical integrity coming into serious question. And, hard as I tried (as a journalist, I probably tried harder than most. After all, who wouldn’t love R500000 in cold hard cash?) I couldn’t find an answer.
There are sponsors’ freebies all over the place in journalism, and I defy you to find a media member who hasn’t accepted one. But R500 000? Have the PSL completely lost their minds?
PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza did say that if the organisation the journalist works for could not accept their employee getting the money, a charity could be named as the beneficiary.
Well, I’ve got a bright spark of an idea. If they really do have all this excess cash to throw around, how about the PSL take that R1.5-million, and pump it straight into a charity of their own choice? Skip the middle man (or woman), so to speak.
And if, and I hope not, anyone in the PSL thought that this competition was an excellent ruse to help the media image of the league, which has taken a bit of a battering of late, then I truly do not know what planet you are living on.
After all, I have seen some extremely silly acts during my years covering the PSL. And this might be the silliest of all. – The Star