The ref bashing needs to stop
Jarryd Hayne is cornered by two referees. (AAP Image/Action Photographics,Colin Whelan)
Given that politicians have been coming out lamenting the quality of political discourse in Australia, I thought I might come out with my own concerns.
While Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull are concerned with the rigidity of the political spectrum, I am worried about the back pages.
Currently, journalists harp on and on, week after week about the same issues that ‘hurt’ rugby league.
Having moved overseas recently, I get to talk less, see less, but read a lot more about my (formerly) local sporting landscape.
Jetsetters among you will know the feeling. You don’t get to watch every game, so you rely on the news providers to keep you up to date with the always juicy rugby league gossip.
Unfortunately, all I seem to read is complaints about referees who made a mistake and gripes by coaches about the judiciary system.
I am not, as a rule, an unquestioning consumer of news, but with the level of media discourse currently I would be excused for thinking that the players and coaches are on the verge of having a coup d’état to overthrow rugby league’s law enforcement agents.
The judiciary, I hear, needs to have more players involved in it.
Apparently the referees still don’t understand the players’ perspective and they all need to be replaced. In fact, they are worse now than they have ever been.
I find all this rather funny, because I remember that referees last year were worse than they had ever been. And come to think of it, similar things were said in the press the year before.
Are the referees just in a continuous downward spiral?
The one thing I have noticed that has changed has been that even when teams win, they still air the dirty laundry about the referees.
It used to be that only the loser was given that right to blame everyone including yourself for the loss. Loser’s privilege, you might say.
It seems that in the days of a minority government not even rugby league coaches can tell whether they’re winning or losing anymore.
Or maybe everyone has been watching too much question time, and has caught Tony Abbott’s disease of only being able to discuss two issues at once.
Rugby league’s boat people and carbon tax are the referees and the judiciary, and maybe throw complaining about David Gallop in there as well, even though he’s gone.
What does this prove? That rugby league can juggle more issues than the Australian Parliament?
To me it stinks of a lack of imagination and an inflexible or unwilling media.
It could be a ratings thing. Media moguls have decided that the best way to get the reader’s blood boiling is with some aspersions about the refs and their bosses.
If that is the case, it tells me that it is the media environment that is in need of an overhaul, not the referee stocks.
If the best rugby league Journos can come up with is the weekly referee and judiciary bashing and puff pieces on players who they were happy to grill for some social indiscretion a couple of years before, they desperately need new material.
I lament the fact that these articles almost always end up on top of the ‘most read’ list on almost all the websites I choose to frequent.
It shows me that despite their banality and lack of journalistic endeavour, people still swallow this stuff.
I implore you, rugby league journalists, please stop publishing articles about how a line judge missed a foot on the line in the semi-final in 2010 and start publishing articles with some research beyond going on Twitter.
Otherwise you, like the politicians, will get sick of this rubbish and begin turning on yourselves.