THE BLOG

Why the Public Love a Scandal

05/03/2013 13:25 GMT | Updated 04/05/2013 10:12 BST

The public loves a scandal and always has. Philosopher F.H Bradley claimed that 'there are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us'.

True that may sound, but presently the media cultivates two types of story: one which is scandalous and one which is intolerably dull. There aren't many 'middle of the road' stories. You can understand the scandalous, but it's hard to fathom why the dull. There is lots of evidence of this at the moment and none more so than in the world of sport: Lance Armstrong's unrepentant and surly confession, and the mystifying case involving Oscar Pistorius and the death of his girlfriend have been worldwide sensations.

Not long ago, the world nearly stopped for the Tiger Woods saga. Cricket has had a few horror stories to deal with: Hanse Cronje and the Pakistan team's match fixing and Mike Atherton's 'hand in the pocket' business. Rugby has had 'blood-from-the-mouth'-gate and Sean Long's betting calamity; Snooker and Tennis have had a few front page scandals, often related to betting, match-fixing or drugs.

We digest rock stars' stories of recreational drug use easily enough, but when Andre Agassi reveals he has taken Crystal Meth it is exactly the kind of shock Mr Bradley means. Athletes and drugs don't generally go together. When they do, the shock factor is emphasised.

Alongside the scandals run the trivial stories: the world's press recently flocked, like it was some kind of earth moving event, to Paris to report the signing of David Beckham to Paris St Germain. He claimed he was to donate all his wages to a charity, which was well received by press and public alike. It is a good deed but there has to be a question as to what his motivation was for announcing that. Nobody needed to know. Sales of his aftershaves and underpants will no doubt soar.

Even more inane is the story of the football 'transfer window' closing deadline. In January, sports channels endlessly churn out the same filler, trying desperately to make it sound so much more interesting than it actually is!

It is the same within the wider arena. Last week we heard about the chilling trial of Pistorius, alongside a story about the Prime Minister's views on writer Hilary Mantel's comments regarding Kate Middleton.

Contrast is of great interest though. The apposition of the banal with the shocking perhaps compels us all the more. Whatever happens, you won't just be getting the results...

James Willstrop's book, 'Shot and a Ghost' is available to buy from willstrop.co.uk, or on kindle