Australia divided over Ben Cousins
Three things happen every time Ben Cousins finds himself on the wrong side of law.
The media covers the latest incident that's landed the fallen West Coast Eagles star in hot water, a huge number of Australians consume the stories - and then a growing section of the community gets pissed off.
There's a predictable reaction to any coverage of Cousins dating back to 2011, the year after his short-lived return to the AFL with Richmond ended.
It was when we first learned Cousins' life after footy wasn't going so well and over the following decade there has barely been a year go by when the now 41-year-old has failed to make headlines for getting arrested, crashing his car, going to jail or being found with drugs.
The latest of these incidents came on Wednesday when police reportedly responded to concerns of a person driving erratically in Perth's inner suburbs and later allegedly found Cousins sleeping next to his car with 2.5 grams of meth in his possession.
Coverage of the incident prompted hundreds of angry comment but here's a couple that basically sum up the attitude of many to the chronicling of Cousins' continuing problems.
At this stage I genuinely don’t know why there is coverage of Ben Cousins— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) April 22, 2020
I mean this in the nicest of ways, but the guy has been a drug addict longer than he was a prolific footballer
That is who he is now, and that doesn’t warrant an update every time he fucks up
The problem with those arguments are two-fold.
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, there is still a huge appetite for anything Cousins-related. As long as readers and viewers continue to engage with the content, the media will likely keep running it. Especially when it's a police matter.
Secondly, Cousins made himself fair game by sitting down for a paid interview with Channel 7 a few weeks ago.
You can't profit off the public's interest in you through the media and then expect a blind eye to be turned your way when you slip up next.
Everyone is sympathetic to Cousins' situation. His spiral from AFL pin-up boy to a genuine drug addict is one of the saddest stories in Australian sport.
But as long as the intense interest in his downfall remains and he puts his hand out for paid interviews the coverage won't change.
Unless, that is, he can turn his life around and no longer give the press anything negative to cover - a situation we can all agree would be best.
I’ve just heard Ben Cousins is locked up again and this repeated coverage rather troubles me. To what extent is he still the Brownlow guy and not just a garden variety individual with a devastating drug habit? Because in that case the newsworthiness completely changes.— Eliza Barr (@ElizaJBarr) April 22, 2020