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When pro sport becomes a circus

Other than publicly embarrassing themselves, here’s what Andile Mpisane, Piers Morgan and Logan Paul all have in common
Thu, Mar 25, 2021

PHOTO: Pixabay

Andile Mpisane has, at various stages of his young life, been described as a reality TV star, a musician and a footballer.

Having watched just about enough reality TV to realise that one is invariably a cutaway shot from being a fully-fledged star in that genre, I suspect the Mpisane playing the role of the golden child in his mother Shauwn's reality show Kwa Mam' Mkhize qualifies him as isterring of sorts.

And while I must admit I haven't heard his music, I'm happy to take my cue from popular culture and acknowledge him as such. But his latest assertion that he's an 'athlete' of the professional footballer kind can't go unchallenged.

The reason Mpisane, who – given his CV – is either the most talented 20-year-old around or picks a job description every other day for mummy to finance, considers himself a footballer is his 'viral' debut in the GladAfrica Championship with Royal AM FC in February.

Andile Mpisane. PHOTO: Royal AM/ Facebook

As an aside, Mpisane is the chairman of the club in what looks a lot like his mother buying him a whole football club to ensure he could attain his pipe dream of being a pro-footballer. His ascent to the role has made him the youngest to hold the position in the country's history.

In the debut, Mpisane came off the bench dressed in all white, complete with full leggings and tight long sleeves, presumably to make him stand out from his own teammates.

In the likely event that the specialness of the new arrival on the pitch was glossed over, the team's most part-time player (between making all that music and the reality TV starring) had on the number 10 jersey, which is usually reserved for the best player in the side.

Then came Mpisane's opportunity to show us what the fuss was all about when he took possession of the ball. He undid all the anticipation from the laborious build-up by promptly losing it trying to perform some elaborate trick first up.

Long story short, the debut went viral because people were pissing themselves laughing at the expense of a spoilt brat making a complete arse of himself while passing himself off as something he clearly isn't.

So overindulged is Mpisane that the recent meme depicting him saying: "Ma, sengifuna ukuba yinkosi" (Mum, I want to be a king now) in the immediate aftermath of King Goodwill Zwelithini's death sounds like a joke… until his mother tries to make it happen.

Mpisane is not the first to confuse weekend warrior status for the real thing. YouTuber Logan Paul has an actual fight planned against Floyd Mayweather. This is despite the fact that Paul has had one fight before, against another YouTuber, and lost. Now he gets to fight someone with a 50-0 record because he's got millions of social media followers.

And the ever-salty 50 Cent, desperate to pick up scraps when embarrassment is in the offering for someone prominent as always, is also keen to fight Floyd to settle some American version of some 'checking me skeef' beef nobody even remembers.

One wonders if 'Fiddy' – whose infamy is partly due to the fact that he was shot (note shot, not shot someone) nine times before breaking through – is aware that he's not allowed an Uzi in the ring.

Seeing that it's in vogue, I blame the smug and superior Piers Morgan for all of this. In 2013, Morgan pulled the ultimate publicity stunt by getting Australian cricket to agree to him facing fast bowler Brett Lee for one over, and now every podgy bastard thinks he can duke it out with real athletes.

We've all done the gimmick before: I puked training with the Sharks rugby team and nearly died of indigestion trying to eat Michael Phelps' Olympic diet (which turned out to be fake). But the point was to show that these guys can do things we normal folks can't.

And once that's decided, you're supposed to settle for a secondhand jockhood, where you either write about sport like this old hack, or mansplain to your partner about how you too were once in close proximity to athletic greatness.

But social media has made it possible for us to tell athletes how useless we think they are directly; video games have turned weedy nerds into recognised 'sports stars'; and reality TV has given absolute nobodies an illusion of A-list celebrity which has left them entitled.

The irony about Mpisane trending because he was being laughed at is that it wasn't at all an issue for him as he'd achieved what he wanted – which is recognition for pretending to be something even he knows deep down he is not.

There's a weird willingness from Mpisane & Co to make complete arses of themselves as long as it means they'll trend, get likes or some half-baked notoriety. How is that different from the shamelessness of dropping a sex tape to launch your 'career' or 'brand'?