As a massive fan of rugby league, there are things I would like to see improved. I’ve cut my list down to six.
1. No Ray Hadley
Bullying and bigotry have no place in rugby league, especially the commentary box.
2. No Tom Waterhouse
No credibility. No value. No explanation required.
3. No gods
The players aren’t gods, so let’s stop pretending. I believe that it would be good for players and fans, if the worship of the players ended.
They are great players and they need to accept that they are role models, but god is dead. There are no gods and over-the-top adoration is still at the point where it is obviously making some players think they might be more important than other people.
I might be wrong, I’m just basing it on their documented behaviour.
4. No drugs
I would like the players to remain drug free, unless it is actually a prescribed treatment for an injury. Simply, performance enhancing drugs are a form of cheating. I would like to see no drugs in sport.
I think sport has a place in the drug community, sport is a healer and a useful distraction for a recovering addict, and a life of drug use on its own is bad – Bob Marley used to get high and play soccer, so I’m all for sport in drugs.
But drugs in sport, it casts doubts over the legitimacy of these athletes and it involves them being injected with horse medicines and synthetic substances that have terrible short and long term side effects – it should not be acceptable.
5. No abuse
I would also like to see the player’s treatment of all living things rise to the point where we see an end to the drunken fights and the sex scandals. Some of these have involved domestic abuse, assault, rape and bestiality – and that’s just the one’s we have heard about in the press.
So let’s not be dismissive of any culture that allows that to occur, its a zero tolerance situation, it is not acceptable.
6. Embrace Education
I’d like to see more footballers embracing their position of role models and promoting education as an opportunity for their own self improvement, as one accepts their man of the match, he says “I’m just looking forward to getting home and putting the kettle on and reading some more Nietzsche.”
As fans, young and old, rush out to grab a copy of Beyond Good and Evil.
Then, instead of having players celebrated on TV shows as morons who can’t spell or answer simple trivia, the entire NRL could be more educationally focused.
I would like to see clubs demanding players go and join a book club, go and watch theatre, read some Karl Marx, also read some Adam Smith, study some history, learn to use computers, develop their business savvy – discover their real interests and potential.
It would give them things they desperately need: perspective and balance, especially when contrasted with the current alternatives of gambling, drinking and playing the Play Station until the next training or gym session.
Now, I know that there is the “rugby league reads” program, but in the pictures promoting the program, the players are holding books like they are a new invention.
They are often just holding them up, not actually reading them, and they never talk about reading in any interview I’ve seen.
Something more genuine and pervasive where the player actually opens a book would be good. Maybe in this year’s State of Origin each player could list their favourite book?
Embracing education would also mean that when they finish their playing careers, they won’t have to wear a dress in some poorly thought out sketch just to feed their family.
But more than that, they won’t be forced into low level labour jobs, with bad knees and a shoddy back, just so they can maintain some dignity and relevance within a world that still discards a majority of its ‘stars’ to the scrap heap.
If these six things happened, it would be a great future reality for players and fans.