With the arrival of Twitter, a medium through which the modern day athlete can document (usually unashamedly) every opinion, qualm or grievance, have we forgotten the progenitor of such unbridled self-expression? It is, of course, the autobiography – reams upon reams of scandal, arguments and morally debauched behaviour laid bare.

The question begs, therefore, what compels sports personalities to divulge every intimate detail of their time in the spotlight? David Ginola‘s recent legal troubles with Gerard Houllier serve as a perfect example as to why certain issues should be left behind closed doors. The former France manager accused Ginola of stabbing the national team in the back, a direct jibe to when Les Bleus went crashing out of the 1993 World Cup qualifiers in a defeat against Bulgaria.

…darker side to professional sport…

Shocking exploits

Herschelle Gibbs‘s shocking account of binge drinking, drugs, orgies and match fixing all revealed a darker side to professional sport too. Who knew that cricket was actually that interesting? So, with the multitude of negative ramifications that arise from spilling the beans on former team mates and managers, there must be some sort of incentive?

As part of a billion pound industry in the UK alone, autobiographies certainly offer great financial rewards irrespective of any potential offense caused. As highlighted by Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, the temptation to release a premature account of your life’s story can garner even more fame and wealth than previously.

…convey his disillusionment… 

Yet in the case of England Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, an autobiography was the perfect opportunity to convey his disillusionment with the current national set up. Such a damning account of life in an England shirt highlights the gaping contrast between his own ‘professionalism’ and the lad culture that supposedly permeates the national team. This kind of dissent will no doubt remind Rugby fans of ‘Nine Lives’, Matt Dawson‘s scathing attack on the 2001 Lions’ Tour, in which the then England Scrum-half produced a blunt description of Graham Henry’s dictator-like management style, consequently incurring a £5,000 fine and nearly being sent home.

Jaap Stam found himself wearing a Lazio jersey only two weeks after dishing the dirt on a Ferguson regime that apparently encouraged diving during European games.

…threat of reprimand…

Aside from the money then, is an autobiography actually worth it? Even if an athlete does take it upon themselves to be a whistle-blower, it’s evident that the threat of reprimand is often greater than any moral reward that could be gained. 


About The Author

Modern Languages student at UCL with an interest in Current Affairs and Sport.

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