Did you ever hear of Andrew R. Rector before the last week or so? Probably not, unless you watched the April 13 baseball game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Rector is a guy who fell asleep in the stands. His image was broadcast that day, but unless you already knew him, you didn’t learn his name.
That name came up because this is the month in which Rector filed suit in New York State Supreme Court, seeking $10 million in damages from ESPN, Major League Baseball and the Yankees. I heard he sued the ESPN announcers, John Kruk and Dan Schulman too, but the article in the NY Times didn’t mention that, so maybe what I heard was wrong. Rector was mocked on Twitter, on Youtube and in other Internet venues, but unlike the bar in the old TV show “Cheers,” everybody didn’t know his name.
But they do now. The Streisand Effect is what journalists, public relations professionals and Internet wags call it. The Streisand Effect is when someone tries to censor, or block, or remove something from the public record (especially the Internet) and instead, the effort to remove it attracts attention to it. It’s named after famed entertainer Barbara Streisand who tried in 2003 to have certain aerial photos of her Malibu beachfront home removed from the internet by suing for $50 million. I know Wikipedia isn’t always an authoritative source, but according to Wikipedia, before the lawsuit, fewer than 4,000 people had seen the pictures on the Internet. Afterwards, more than 400,000.
If you’re interested and haven’t looked at the NY Times website too often, you can read about the Rector lawsuit here. The article says Rector claims people made fun of him everywhere he went because he was shown asleep at the game. In my opinion, the lawsuit will cause Mr. Rector to be ridiculed much more than his falling asleep did. If he was teased about that, no doubt the teasing had died down since the incident happened in April. Filing the lawsuit dragged the whole thing back into the public consciousness and Identified him by name to the public at large. His name hadn’t been widely known before. While I am not a lawyer, I firmly believe the lawsuit should and will be dismissed as frivolous. For just one thing, why is he suing the Yankees? They made stadium seats comfortable enough to sleep in, that’s true, but they won the game, 3-2, so they at least tried to keep Rector awake.