Let’s be honest, we don’t mind a good rumour here at BigFooty, but last week’s shenanigans got us thinking, how on earth does one of these things get started? And how does it do the rounds to the point that people believe it’s true? Or conversely are adamant it’s false.
A quick recap for those living under a rock. Early last week a BigFooty member posted a rumour he’d heard that supposedly Collingwood were in deep excrement due to 10 players being busted systematically betting on Collingwood games.
Players were named (defamed) in some discussions, talk of being ejected from the finals, $1million fines and long term penalties swirled. Fans went into a frenzy – both believing and rejecting the rumour. By mid afternoon on Thursday most media outlets were yet to report on the rumour and even on Friday the only articles were in relation to the calls to have the AFL Intergrity Department launch a full scale investigation into what happened and who started it. Journo Tom Browne went so far as to suggest that if the source of the original rumour could be uncovered the person or persons in question should be sued!
Like politics, footy evokes emotion. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people that hate (or dislike immensely) the Collingwood Football Club with a passion. And if they don’t necessarily hate the club then they hate Eddie McGuire or someone who’s been associated with the club previously.
Whether you hate them or not it’s impossible to deny that Collingwood news is big news that gets people talking – or perhaps more importantly in this case – clicking!
If it were an episode of Law and Order it’s pretty easy to see the motive for creating the rumour. Many have laid the blame squarely at the feet of Bombers fans who seemed particularly excited this rumour might have been true. Some uttered, if true it would be bigger than the peptide crisis that engulfed (and destroyed) football for far too long. Probably a fair call.
According to Foxsports the rumour initially started when a supposed screenshot of a players phone was circulated. Complete with blacked out (redacted) names, it claimed Collingwood players have a betting syndicate and a player in question (name redacted) had “dumped” a bet on them to lose to Hawthorn and it “just snowballed from there”.
Re-reading this supposed ground zero of the rumour it’s hard to believe anyone thought there was any truth in it. Look closely and you can see through it (assuming it’s not true of course!). But with Jayden Stephenson’s suspension (for betting on games earlier in the year) fresh in everyone’s memory, it wasn’t a stretch to think that perhaps there was a more deeper problem at play.
In fact the rumour gathered so much steam that according to an article on The Age Collingwood felt they had no choice but to ring the AFL to double check there wasn’t something going on that they weren’t aware of.
Here at BigFooty the first we knew of it was a post by “draftee” Himynameisbrick on Wednesday at 10:53pm. It has to be said HMNIB has been a member on BigFooty since 2015 so it’s not like he/she just joined up to post a rumour four years later (or if they did, phenominal patience shown!).
Some mods have said they knew as early as Monday and there’s some talk the whispers started a couple of weeks before that!
While many were quick to blame BigFooty, according to another user the rumours were first seen in a series of WhatsApp groups. “Started in one, appeared in another with a supposed comment from a person who supposedly spends a bit of time with one of the Collingwood families shooting the breeze”, said one BigFooty member. The supposed connection to the football club gave the rumour some credibility and off it went.
Returning to our original BigFooty poster, according to the source himself, the person who originally conveyed the message supposedly has ties one of Collingwood’s sponsors.
So now we’ve got someone with a connection the sponsors and someone with a connection to the Collingwood board. It’s astonishing no-one put two and two together sooner.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday this juggernaut of slander had gathered such pace that seasoned journalists were scampering to see if there was a breaking story that they had somehow missed. Mark Robinson, not the most liked journo and regularly accused of a vendetta against Collingwood, came out late on the same afternoon to state the gambling rumour was completely false.
This is a man who has regularly been accused of a vendetta against Collingwood and infamously stated that 11 Collingwood players testing positive for illicit drugs – a statement he was never able to provide proof of and given the lack of action against the club has to be presumed to be at most yet another rumour! And yet in one tweet he effectively shut the whole thing down.
Former player agent Ricky Nixon was another to be “consulted” by many regarding the rumours. By 4:45pm he’d posted this delightful rebuttal of the rumoured facts.
As we’ve trawled through the sewer that is Twitter we’ve lost count of the number of posters that prefixed their tweets with “I reckon it’s all bullshit but…”. That statement has to be up there with “I’m not a racist but” and “I’m not sexist but”. Put simply people continued to spread the rumour, even when it was clear there was nothing in it.
We live in a fake news age so it’s a little surprising that everyone was so quick to believe it. Isn’t a healthy dose of scepticism the default position on these “issues” these days? So why do some cut through the noise, while many disappear into the ether? A New York Times article back in 1991 of the same title as this article “rumours are a kind of opportunistic information virus, thriving because of their ability to create the very anxieties that make them spread, and to mutate to fit new situations.”
That last part is the most applicable in the context of AFL. Because what’s better than one player has been caught with drug x? Two players of course. And what’s better than one player being busted betting? Well 10 players of course!
In hindsight it’s pretty bloody ridiculous … assuming of course this doesn’t all blow up sometime in the next six months. Yep, even after all of the evidence to the contrary I’m on the fence. The majority of players do the right thing but when a story comes to light like Stephenson’s betting suspension earlier in the year you can’t help but shake your head at the utter stupidity of everyone that helped spread it.
But perhaps the best way to put a full stop (or is that an exclamation mark) on this whole kerfuffle is to quote BigFooty member SuperSteele22.