South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears on Friday after he was charged in court with shooting dead his girlfriend in his Pretoria house.
The 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to hear the murder charge read out, then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands.
“Take it easy,” Nair told him. “Come take a seat.”
The last 12 months have been particularly tough for sports fans and one doubts they will be able to take it easy. We’ve seen the Lance Armstrong revelations, the Europol football match-fixing scandal come to light, and the expose of Australian sport. To watch another icon in the docks is almost too much.
“Pistorius’ case is out of Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not. This is a grave time for Oscar and allegations of murders are serious charges anywhere in the world,” said senior sports writer Ayaz Memon. “Sometimes we tend to forget that sportsperson also have the same kind of frailties as other human beings. They are such high achievers that we assume they have no fallibility at all. Till you come across something like this and then it appears even more stark.”
On the other hand, Nike is being reminded again that pinning your company reputation on star names is a risky business. We’ve seen Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods get badly hit by scandals and now we might see the same happen in the Pistorius case. Nike’s ad campaign called him — “the bullet in the chamber.” A phrase that seems wrong on so many levels now.
“Nike has always been associated with cult figures, whether it is (Andre) Agassi, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron James…,” said Ayaz. “So the associations have always been very strong and it adds to the cult of the brand, the product as well as the sportsperson. And it runs for years, even after some of the sportspersons retire.
“However, there is no way for the brand to know what they are getting into. You might have tied up with a 18-year-old or a 20-year-old emerging talent and you don’t quite know how things will turn out. It’s a risk you run.”
Watch the entire discussion between Sports Editor Ashish Magotra and veteran sports writer Ayaz Memon above.