The recent Ryder assault was as ugly as you could get. Apparently premeditated, gutless, and sustained. It left Ryder fighting for his life, and rightly shocked the nation.
So many questions were raised. Have we really got a stage where sportsmen, entertainers, or anyone in the public eye cannot go out in public without fearing for their safety? Bodyguards for domestic cricket players? Not sure who would pay for that.
And when did Merivale get so dangerous?
But a lot of the media coverage completely missed the point the here was a human being, through no fault of his own, lying in an induced coma.
That did not seem to matter. Both of the (currently) leading news sites ran the story of the attack, and then eagerly followed that up with the catalogue of Ryder’s “Past indiscretions”. Completely irrelevant, and a strange undertone of blaming the victim for this; not unlike those whacky judges in the States who blame rape victims on what they chose to wear that day.
TV news that night then ran the story to a backdrop of footage of Ryder knocking a chair over once having been dismissed.
The most obvious pointlessness of this innuendo was that, from all accounts, Ryder was doing nothing wrong at the time he was assaulted. His New Zealand season had finished earlier in the day, he was at a Bar / Restaurant (although reports dropped the Restaurant part of that location) with team-mates and was minding his own business.
Secondly, this list of supposed “Past indiscretions” contained not one instance of violence against another person. Yes, there was the toilet window smashed out in Christchurch, but that’s because it was locked and he was busting. In a totally different category.
In fact, the last item on these lists was the “incident” in Napier last year. We walked into a bar after a One Day International with Doug Bracewell, and had ONE drink. But during that time the two of them they were constantly abused by some patrons. Nice one New Zealand; good to abuse complete strangers while giving them a bit of life advice.
Ryder gave them some lip back as he left the bar; I would say that’s pretty self-restrained.
The other constant in every single report was the comment about how Ryder was due to leave for the “lucrative IPL League” over the weekend. A contract valued at around $300,000 as we were repeatedly reminded.
Resentment of the amount of money current cricketers can earn in India from the media is nothing new, but this was hardly the time to bring that up at a time like that. And to include it in every single story, as if it actually mattered in the wider state of things.
The subtext here of course is that the guys are overpaid for playing games. Again, the timing was poor, and the intention was to do a check on our sympathy getting out of hand. Greedy sportsmen; such a soft target, regardless of the context.
As it happens, Ryder has spent a significant part of this summer working to promote the cause of raising money for 5 year old Angus Little, who is battling a brain tumour, to go to the US for specialised treatment. He co-ordinated the various fundraising activities in Wellington, and travelled to Auckland with Angus to take part in the Campbell Live backyard cricket event to increase awareness of the cause.
Oh, and he also donated his entire season’s HRV Cup fee to the Little’s campaign. There was some reference to this over the weekend, but was strangely missing from the main backgrounders on Ryder’s life.
Finally, and in complete contrast to the tone shown above, well done to Dan Carter and Honor Dillon. Their first baby arrived on the day that news of the attack was announced. They waited until Ryder came out of intensive care before announcing it. 48 hours is a lifetime in the modern world of celebrity babies.
They got it.