Five ways the NRL media could learn from the Olympics
Full-time has been blown on the Olympics, and despite the odd grumble from the usual suspects the games have bathed in overwhelmingly positive press.
This is in stark contrast to rugby league back home, whose major competition has come under stinging attack by the journalistic bitter brigade.
The disparity could not be more obvious if Jared Tallent and Usain Bolt decided to enter a swimwear competition.
One has a flotilla of fanboys pumping up its tyres at every opportunity, whilst the other has a coven of cranky criticisers moaning morosely unless every game is won in extra time by a length of the field Steve Jackson try.
So, what would happen if we applied some of the Olympic upbeat spin to some of the NRL’s ills? Here are 5 Ways the NRL media could learn from the Olympics
Population Medal Tally
An old Olympic chestnut this one. After day two when China and the U.S have won everything but the Athlete’s Village trivia night, the press will rock out the ‘Medal Tally per population’ to let us little guys know we’re still important.
This table of course turns farcical when a pistol shooter from Bermuda somehow Stephen Bradburys his way to an unexpected bronze leaving NZ in tears, but even still the concept would be great for the NRL.
At the end of the season the NRL press could construct a competition ladder per population, giving small market teams like Cronulla or Canberra a chance to take home some feel good silverware.
Lesser skilled sports people becoming inspirations
If you enter an Olympic event, perform like a busted blister and come last by a laughable amount, you are hailed as the ‘essence of the Olympics’ and rolled out in soppy slow-mo montages for decades to come.
Sure you probably still cry yourself to sleep every night, but at least you’ll have a few endorsement deals to wipe away your tears with.
Try the old ‘Eric the Eel’ shtick in the NRL though and you’ll be disowned by teammates, verbally assaulted by fans and mercilessly mocked by witty internet commentators for the next millenia.
Maybe the NRL press could extend the olive branch to these well meaning nuffies, give them a job in the mail room or something, and if not celebrate their sloppy skills at least agree to not openly ridicule them.
Whilst everyone would agree running, jumping and throwing heavy stuff are worthwhile skills to possess, only the Olympic spin team could convince you that ribbon twirling, poking each other with blunt swords or walking for great distances are of equal importance.
The NRL’s commentators should follow suit by not just praising players’ tries, kicks and tackles, but also their more mundane skills.
Playing the ball properly, penalty milking, kicking tee arrangement, phantom scrum pushing… when was the last time you heard one of these get a good write up?
These skills should be ignored by the media no longer.
Fellow countrymen standing in your way for a spot in the Olympic team? Throw a couple of darts at your world map, make a few phone calls and pretty soon you’re being lauded in some obscure country of the ‘Stan belt living like a king and shotgunning the top bunk at the Olympic village.
This happens so often it’s barely even mentioned, and is seen as a natural way to even up competition by most international media sources.
In rugby league, even looking at another country across a crowded bar will have you strung up by your wheels for tearing at the fabric of the game, whilst the press hurls grenades at the game’s credibility and ring the sport’s death knell.
Right to Party
See if you can spot the difference here:
- Footage of Olympians in bar after two weeks of competition: “Professional athletes letting off steam.”
- Footage of NRL players in bar after 8 months of competition: “Uneducated, bogan menaces giving the game another black eye with drunken skulduggery.”
Granted on a personal level I’ve never been held down and given a ‘Friar Tuck’ haircut by a mob of drunk Swedish handballers, but even still, maybe giving footy players a bit of space to unwind rather than following them around with a film crew might paint things in a better light.
By addressing these five areas I feel the rugby league media could really help paint a much more positive picture for the game, because if you can’t learn from the Olympics, who can you learn from?
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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