By now you’ve had enough time to digest the Deadspin report on Mark Sanchez and his “love affair” with a 17-year-old girl, and you’ve hopefully realised it’s a non-story. A celebrity consensually “hooked up” with a legal girl seven years his junior. Happens all the time. No big deal, right?
Except that it was. After Deadspin’s report got hundreds of thousands of views, the Post took on the story, uncovered the name of the the young woman, featured the story on its front page, and has written stories on Sanchez for two days running. Meanwhile, the national sports media has run wild with the story, and by now everyone knows what went down.
(You can blame outlets for publishing the story, but they only put it out because they know you’ll click on it.)
And that’s gotta scare the hell out of professional athletes.
It means that even if they handle themselves completely within the bounds of the law and are respectful to women, they run the risk of becoming the subject of a national news story the instant their one night stand leaves the next morning. All it takes is an attention-seeking woman to send an e-mail to anyone with a website and a few followers who read that site. (That’s not to say that Eliza Kruger was purely after attention, but nonetheless, her scandal-less story sent shockwaves through the press.)
Again, it’s one thing for Brett Favre’s story or Ben Roethlisberger’s story to see the light of day. Roethlisberger was initially accused of rape, while Brett Favre irresponsibly sent nude pictures and acted questionably enough in a work environment to raise questions of sexual harassment. Sanchez did nothing like that. He simply texted a girl, got dinner with her, brought her back to his place, and left the impression of being a “genuine,” “nice guy.”
When something like that gets so much attention, it means athletes have to tread even more carefully than ever before.
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