What is the cost of becoming an NRL footballer?

Cameron Kellett Roar Guru

By Cameron Kellett, Cameron Kellett is a Roar Guru

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    They say success breeds expectation and it does, but regardless of the team you support it applies to all sporting teams. Considering the pressure that it brings, what is the cost of becoming a professional rugby league player?

    Firstly, success is a step to wanting to achieve more success, and when fulfillment occurs and goals are achieved it’s easy to settle for average or think ‘we made it’.

    This ultimately distinguishes the difference between a team of champions and a team of ‘wannabe’ champions.

    Unfortunately the cost of winning or lack of winning can cost those professional athletes their livelihood.

    Metaphorically speaking, it’s a ‘dog-eat-dog world’ or in other words, survival of the fittest, but it is testament to the ugly nature professional sport brings with the being the best.

    The expectation of our professional athletes have grown exponentially over the past few decades as the expectation of winning is so important to fans or the glory hunters, corporate investors with their big bucks and the broadcasters of the sport.

    The weight of the pressure can sometimes become too much.

    There is so much pressure and expectation that maybe teams like Cronulla Sharks feel as though there is no other way to meet the demand, or that players feel a need to cheat or perhaps crumble under the weight of expectation.

    Players like Ben Barba, Josh Dugan and former bad boy Todd Carney.

    It seems there is and will never be a reasonable or logical solution to ensuring these stars are not lost forever to the game of rugby league.

    Now it may sound like I’m all for cheating and turning a blind eye to the behavioural issues that occur, but I’m not.

    I do not condone cheating and I honestly believe cheating is seen as a last resort for those who know no better and the constant behavioural issues rearing their ugly head on a regular basis need to be stamped out with an iron fist.

    The image currently being portrayed by the NRL is that the game is a family friendly environment and with that, children are the clear target audience.

    The current Sharks scandal and constant indiscretions from superstars do rugby league a disservice and provide no foreseeable end to what is constantly affecting every single NRL season.

    When will sporting fans be provided with just sport, rather than a constant tirade of problems?

    Or perhaps the fans are to blame? Why you may ask me? Well as mentioned earlier, success breeds expectation.

    Perhaps a classic example of this, is the football club, the Brisbane Broncos.

    Since 1988, the Brisbane Broncos have produced six premierships, four minor premierships, a Club World Challenge victory, no end to the number of representative players developed and the list goes on and ultimately the success the Broncos have bred can be seen as their down fall.

    If Brisbane supporters are too ignorant to agree with me and to naive to see what is occurring, then we must all be living under a rock and just encase you were wondering, I’m a Broncos supporter until I die.

    Broncos are constantly ridiculed for their support or lack of. With a city of over two million people and such rich history you would expect higher memberships and attendances then almost every other NRL club?

    The Broncos are not the only side here with these issues though. It’s the fickle nature of Australian supporters that speak louder than a string of poor form. I don’t discredit the effort portrayed by core support either, so don’t confuse the two.

    This fickle type can be described no less than either glory hunters or bandwagoners.

    Now obviously the fickle type can be converted to core supporters but trends would suggest that although the popular nature of the game attendances are far from reflective of the popularity, people would rather sit at home and watch via the television screen.

    The corporate support and dollars are determined by numbers and what speaks louder than attendances and viewing?

    So with numbers you’ll find you then have the corporate support and now the dollars behind the club.

    Sustaining this ultimately comes back to the performance of the players and expectations on them that require results to ensure yearly financial reports or objectives are meeting board expectations.

    I can’t help but feel for our professional athletes of today. The expectations on our former idols did not reach such levels.

    It was about whom you played for, what you played for and how you played that counted!

    There are many arguments to both sides and many will suggest their pay packets determine the expectations for it is their job, but at what cost does it come?

    These players were once children who had aspired to emulate former idols or at least stand alongside them but us fans then make comparisons and attempt to justify the best or the worst players based on the team’s performance on the weekend or the conclusion of a season.

    It seems as though no team is allowed to have a bad year. If they do then the coach gets punted, then the players and before you know it the expectation dissipates and we are again left with nothing – until more success breeds more success that leads to expectation.

    Perhaps these expectations are the decisive factor leading players to act out through constant indiscretions.

    Perhaps deep down they really are asking for help, but it would seem asking for help always comes too late and is looked down upon regardless of the individuals circumstances.

    Perhaps the Cronulla Sharks scenario is another manifestation in which club officials are misleading our future stars due to the constant expectation of winning at all costs?

    I don’t possess the answers, I am just a passionate NRL supporter hurting like everyone else and wanting just footy and I’m sure the players all want the same too.

    So just maybe as a collective group, we can realise this is just a game and win, lose or draw we are afforded with such a wonderful sport.

    Maybe, just once, we can just enjoy it for what it is instead of heaping expectation that in-turn affects our teams and our prolonged support.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:23pm
      Symbolsoup said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

      Hear hear, it seems we are in complete agreement… What that ‘other discussion’ was about, I have no idea now.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2013 @ 5:09pm
        Cameron Kellett said | March 15th 2013 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

        Good to hear Symbolsoup :D. I understand the concept of the other discussion but I guess we weren’t on the same page, nor am I a troll 🙂

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:27pm
      oikee said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

      Guilty, yes guilty and i admit it. Brisbane expects their teams to do well, not just the Broncos mind you, every team.
      You can figure out Brisbanes real support for each team (code) in Brisbane when teams are going bad.
      Look, not long ago, about 2 years ago, the Broncos had a losing run of 7? 8 games. I turned up when they had lost 3-4 in a row. I did this to make sure they knew i was supporting them.

      The Lions support is around 10 thousand, if they try to say different they are not being honest.
      They do get alot of students and inter=state support, diehards and brisbane fans would be 10 thousand.
      Thje Roar, well it is playing out now, so 10 thousand theirabouts. The reds, well they can drop to 10 15 thousand, which was highlighted just a couple year ago before this run,. It will go back their once they start losing.

      The Broncos are the strongest as we all know. Around 20, 21 thousand hardcore. This can and does rise to 35 thousand for away crowds.
      I made the point on another post, Brisbane loves winners, we are not a one town team follower. Our city loves to support winners and this includes all codes and athletes.

      The people and city dont have any agenda’s, no one code ethics. This is good, healthy, and it could have been alot different if Brisbane had more than 1 NRL team.

      This is what has held back massive support for rugby league, and lets not forget, that Brisbane propped up the game of rugby league for a decade as Sydney crowds slumbered and wallowed in self pity.
      Even Origin was a slow burn for Sydney crowds, still is really.

      You can sell out 2 origin games in Brisbane, 110 thousand tickets in just 5 hours.
      Yet Sydney will take all year to sell out the first Origin game. And about 20 thousand of them would be Queensland fans. So 60 thousand tickets , and then the second game will be a wait and see affair.

      Brisbane was a gold mine for the NRL. They have left their run too late. I think fans or rugby league are finding it tough to find possitives, we have had drama, after drama, after drama.

      It has worn me out, and i am a diehard.
      Kellett, i have to admire your report. I dont think i could present such a good report and honest. Maybe i just dont have the time anymore, maybe i am just wornout and care not for the time effort put in, they keep telling me it is a takeaway world, i am enjoying the takeaway world, fast internet, fast TV , fastffood. It all tastes very good to me.
      I want my team to at least have 1 superstar player.
      I was happy when we had Lockyer, i lived nicely losing while he was at the club. The Cowboys are now lucky the they can turn up to watch hurston, won or lose, they know he is on their side.

      The Broncos have lost every thing. We really dont have a star player, a good outside back or halve,.
      This dissapoints me more than anything. They had plenty of time to buy someone, yet they have let this team fall.
      They have failed me, the fans, and Brisbane.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2013 @ 5:14pm
        Cameron Kellett said | March 15th 2013 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

        Oikee, thank you very much for your well thought out and lengthy relpy. I have been searching for these kinds or responses as it offers a greater insight into the thoughts and minds of NRL suppoters. Every detail I covered in the article surely goes hand in hand but I just feel as though we as fans also needs to play our part without expecting to much in return, thus for my reason to say “Sucess breeds expectation.”

        We have become accustomed to such a strong Broncos team for many years and when things get hard it can become very hard to detach ourselves from previous successes thus heaping the pressure on what is already a very enjoyable but heavily scrutinized playing career.

    • March 15th 2013 @ 12:39pm
      B.A Sports said | March 15th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

      “They say success breeds expectation”

      I’ve heard of “success breeds contempt” but never expectation…

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2013 @ 5:08pm
        Cameron Kellett said | March 15th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

        B.A Sports,

        I too have heard “success breeds contempt” but you don’t understand the meaning or concept of “success breeds expectation” ??

        The Broncos supporters are testament to this, I don’t follow closely to the reactions of other supporters but the Broncos have produced plenty of success in previous seasons, the moment they start to perform badly people provide a response in the form of disappointment or disgust due to the fact they expect Broncos to do well or make the finals every year. I hope you follow??

    • March 15th 2013 @ 4:51pm
      Monners said | March 15th 2013 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

      I am so sick of hearing about how a Brisbane State of Origin game is sold out far more quickly than a Sydney game.

      There are several reasons this is so and it is not limited to the inference so many smug Queensland supporters make that they love rugby league more. There is simply no comparison to attending the slick and purposely designed Suncorp Stadium as against the poorly designed Olympic Park. And that’s once you get inside. I can spend an hour on a train and travel 80kms from the Gold Coast to a Suncorp game as opposed to 2 hours on a bus to travel 30 km as I did when I attended the Sydney SOO game.

      It sickens me that the Broncos have had it so good for so long not only from a supporters perspective but also from a development perspective. There is no denying that a player, if offered the same money, would choose a local club over an interstate rival. I have long been a champion of a second team in Brisbane or a reduction to the salary cap for the Broncos to offset the ‘stay at home’ syndrome.

      Oh and surprise surprise, guess who’s playing tonight (as they will every Friday night).

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2013 @ 5:05pm
        Cameron Kellett said | March 15th 2013 @ 5:05pm | ! Report


        Fair gripe, but what does it have to do with the article. I only used Broncos as an example to illustrate sucess and expectation on NRL players. I also made no mention of SOO. Was this comment meant for this article? I just don’t follow. Sorry.

      • March 17th 2013 @ 12:39pm
        Die Hard NRL Fan said | March 17th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report


        Funny how QLD still sold out Suncorp Stadium when they had lost 3 years straight in State of Origin.

        Also plenty of the junior talent that supposedly suffers the ‘stay at home’ syndrome moves south to Sydney teams. Many players who now play for these Sydney teams were and still are fans of Brisbane. Doesn’t seem like they suffer from ‘stay at home’ syndrome.

        Your comment clearly missed the point of the article.

    • Columnist

      March 19th 2013 @ 1:16pm
      Ryan O'Connell said | March 19th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

      Great piece, mate.

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