Last week, I was inspired by Jody Foster's plea during her
Golden Globe acceptance speech for us to realise how precious
a thing is privacy.
The reaction to Zac Guildford's behaviour at a private party
recently demonstrates not only how precious it is, but also
how difficult it is to differentiate the ''public'' from the
''private'' these days, especially if you're a high-profile
Smartphones plus social media equals no privacy, and someone
at the party decided Guildford's scuffle with another
partygoer was something the public should know about.
Running around naked on a small island and being abusive to
all and sundry is way higher up the scale of inappropriate
behaviour for a public figure than fisticuffs with an
individual at a private party (that didn't lead to an arrest
or serious injury), but Guildford must realise that he is not
only skating on thin ice when it comes to second chances with
the NZRU but also with this game of Russian roulette he
insists on playing with alcohol.
After abstaining from alcohol for a year and undertaking some
counselling, he believed he was a responsible drinker who
could ''enjoy a quiet beer every now and then''.
Famous last words of any individual who suffers from their
very sociable 20s, lives in a binge-drinking culture, or
suffers from alcoholism.
After his drunken Rarotongan rampage at the end of 2011,
Guildford promised never to return to his troublesome ways.
The word ''never'' will always come back and bite you, and
someone should have advised Guildford against using
We all make black and white statements about what we believe
we can and can't control about our behaviour (just think
about all the failed new year resolutions), yet very few of
us have to do this in the public arena.
Does Guildford's scuffle with another partygoer deserve the
media attention, public disapproval and NZRU disciplinary
hearing it has received?
Guildford understands that he should expect scrutiny for his
behaviour when under the influence of alcohol. In his own
words, back in mid-December, ''people are always going to
have the eye on me waiting for me to slip up again''.
Is he going to slip up in a public space, like at the
Ellerslie races on Melbourne Cup day, or at the Fight for
Life event with Israel Dagg, or at a private space where some
''third party'' loves to take photos and tweet?Reality TV and
social media accounts have invited us into the lives of
celebrities as they happen, so we no longer have to wait for
the autobiography to come out to pass judgement on their
It takes a very private and/or powerful individual to avoid
being outed in the blurred private and public space. As Tiger
Woods and Lance Armstrong discovered, the thirst for any
''dirt'' on athletes is so strong that indiscretions (big and
small) will eventually be flushed out. It may not happen
overnight but it will happen.
In Guildford's defence, he seems to have learned some
valuable lessons from Rarotonga and quickly apologised to the
person on the receiving end of his drunken fist, and fessed
up to the Crusaders management promptly (rather than skulk on
to a plane).
Todd Blackadder is under the pump in terms of delivering a
Super rugby trophy to a franchise that hasn't seen it since
2008, so his strong stance regarding Guildford is
First and foremost, Guildford's indiscretions should matter
to him, his partner, his friends and family, and his
employers. If the individuals involved have resolved their
differences, and conversations with the necessary parties
have occurred, then we shouldn't care. But we do, because he
is a public figure.
Luckily, for most of us, we made mistakes and learned from
them in private. Unfortunately, for Guildford and other
high-profile athletes, they must endure the public's interest
in their triumphs and tribulations.
For now, Guildford is the wayward son some of us want to
discipline and some of us want to smother with love and
understanding. Like all of us who have survived our 20s, it
is a combination of good advice, great friends and support
structures, and a pinch of good luck that sees us through.
Let's hope Guildford has plenty of this to see him through to
the much more sensible 30s.