Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien
|Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A very readable look at the culture of entitlement which has grown up amongst some top sportsmen, which should be read by everyone with an interest in sport.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: August 2015|
|Publisher: Yellow Jersey|
Mere mortals relax by having a game of footy of a weekend and a couple of drinks, but what does a professional sportsman do to cut loose? What do they do when they go out en masse? Investigative journalist Anna Krien looks at a rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer, just into his twenties and follows the case as it goes to court, interviewing some of those directly or indirectly involved and digressing into related areas. In deference to the fact that the woman had automatic anonymity, she's chosen to give the man who was charged the name of 'Justin Dyer' in an attempt to level the playing field, so to speak. You could Google the facts and come up with the correct name, but this isn't a book of gossip about particular people. It's an investigation of a culture which has increasingly treated women as sexual commodities.
Originally Dyer was a called in as a witness: the complainant in the rape with which he was eventually charged had also complained that she had been raped by two much more prominent players, but that case was dropped and only Dyer was charged. If I have one quibble about this book it's that I didn't really understand why the case against the two other players was dropped - but perhaps that's my naivety.
It's not an easy read in terms of what you learn - it's occasionally difficult to believe that men can behave like this (including the clubs who condone what happens) - but the book is written in a way which keeps you turning the pages. It's accessible, even when dealing which the 'niceties' of the law (such as the grey area between 'rape' and 'consent') and never becomes a rant. Krien is even-handed, speaking to both 'camps' as the trial progresses and managing to alienate neither.
The story is obviously centred on Australian Rules Football and Australian Rugby League - but it's about a culture of entitlement amongst the players, a feeling that the normal rules don't apply to them, which has grown up among top (and even lower-ranking) professionals, which isn't just limited to Australia, as the recent furore over the Ched Evans case in the UK proves It's not a book to read if you're wanting the gossip about stars you know in the UK - it's about attitudes to women in the sport as a whole, about men who use group sex as a team-bonding exercise.
Night Games isn't a feminist manifesto by any means - it's occasionally difficult to believe that the women can behave in the way that they do (the word predatory really doesn't go too far sometimes) - and Krien is open-minded in her approach to the case. It's an important book which should be read by all young people and particularly those involved in sport and the women who are star-struck and keen to get close to their heroes. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more that you might not have known about football, we can recommend I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer. You might also appreciate Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivation from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between) by Cindy M Meston and David Buss and Broken Dreams by Tom Bower. You could shelve Night Games alongside Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth: From Steubenville to Ched Evans by Luke Gittos
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You can read more book reviews or buy Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien at Amazon.com.
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