When I was a kid my Dad played rugby league for the Nowra Warriors. I was never a huge fan of the game, but I used to go along to most of the matches and a few times a year we’d go to Kogarah Oval to watch the mighty St George!
Back then it was all about the game and the skill of the players, and although I was and will never be a sports mad person, I used to look forward to heading to the big smoke to see the game live.
Over the years I’ve watched the game from the sidelines, and in recent years read my news from State Of Origin matches in Sydney and Brisbane and from the clubrooms of the team’s involved in the grand finals.
Unfortunately over the last decade I have grown increasingly frustrated with the game, mainly because of the shameful antics of some of its highly paid and increasing arrogant players.
While I do not want to lump everyone into the same basket, as a newsreader I am totally sick and tired of hearing about and then having to report on the hijinks and crimes of players off the field.
Already this year we are hearing stories of players spitting and brawling in bars, and the season hasn’t even started!
I’ve lost count of the amount of air time devoted to , brawls, cheating allegations, assaults, drug taking, drunkennness, drink driving etc etc.
In fact the misbehaviour of rugby league players has spawned an entire industry, devoted to analysing the behaviour of grown men who are well paid, are supposed to be role models and should know better.
While I was reporting on yet another scandal involving South Sydney, other important stories including cover-ups in the Catholic church and declining health rates in indigenous communities had to be “sidelined” while these fools got airtime.
No wonder more parents are refusing to allow their kids to play rugby league and are looking instead to sports like Soccer.
Sure, some of you will argue that I’m picking on rugby league and will claim that all sports have problems when it comes to anti-social behaviour. That maybe so, but I’m sick and bloody tired of spending week after week (especially during the season) reporting about the repercussions of so-called “Mad Monday” celebrations: Assaults in bars and general disgusting behaviour.
Some might say the answer for the media is simple: Ignore it. But that lets these thugs get away with the bashings, drunken antics, sledges and whatever else they choose to get up to.
If these highly paid young men want respect, then I say ‘earn it’. Grow up and stop giving commentators in the media fodder to talk about you, for all the wrong reasons.
It’s about time these players realised they are in a very privileged position where many people, including children, look up to them. So how about concentrating on the game guys, and showing some respect for the fans that put all that money into your big fat wallets?
It’s such a shame that the bad behaviour overshadows what the good-guys in the game do. I have worked with some amazing people like Benji Marshall and Braith Anasta who have channelled their fame and profile into good causes. I can only hope the next batch of players look to their example, and we stop giving oxygen to “men” with no moral compass or grasp of what is right or wrong.