Last night on The NRL Footy Show we got a great snapshot of what a rugby league club is really all about.
I wish we hadn’t got it, because that would mean Alex McKinnon wasn’t lying in a hospital bed after the awful accident in Monday night’s game between Newcastle and Melbourne.
But it did happen, so now everyone involved has to deal with it, while the rest of us look on and hope for the best.
The Footy Show isn’t known for devoting extended periods of time to serious topics, but last night was different.
It opened on this most serious of topics, inviting Knights great Danny Buderus, via a video hook-up, and the club’s chief executive, Matt Gidley, in the studio, to give the audience an appreciation of the person McKinnon is and how everyone at the club was coping.
Buderus, we learned, had become close to McKinnon since returning from England to finish his career in the NRL.
He appeared to be struggling to hold back tears a couple of times as he talked about McKinnon and the terrible circumstances the 22-year-old now finds himself in.
Gidley, it was clear, was also gutted by what had happened.
Andrew Johns spoke with feeling as a Knights great. He and the rest of the panel, led by host Paul Vautin, handled the segment very well.
Until Monday night, much of the recent news about the Knights had surrounded Nathan Tinkler’s ownership of the club and whether it would continue, given the state of his business affairs.
That remains a story, but the situation with McKinnon reminds us that at the end of the day a football club, in any code, is about the people involved, at all levels.
It is the quality of those people and how much they are prepared to give of themselves that determines how successful a club will be, and Newcastle has always been one of those clubs where the people give a lot.
We were reminded of that last night.
It was important television if you are a league fan, or even just a casual sports fan, because it brought into focus what we are really dealing with here – people.
Also on The Footy Show last night was a very revealing interview with Penrith star Jamal Idris and his parents.
Interviewer Yvonne Sampson did a great job with her treatment of the subject and Idris didn’t put up any shutters. We discovered a lot more about him.
Sampson has done a couple of very good pieces like that now this season.
Last night was an example of what The Footy Show, particularly with its treatment of the McKinnon story, can be like when it trades a bit of the slapstick for a bit more of the serious.
We all wish, of course, that the seriousness had not been brought on by an incident which has impacted so heavily on an individual and those around him.
Everyone in the game is feeling for McKinnon, and the player who will eventually face the judiciary over the incident, Jordan McLean, deserves our consideration as well.
He obviously didn’t mean for anything like this to happen and would presumably be finding it difficult to cope with the situation.
McKinnon’s teammates will have to go out and play a game this weekend, and it would be hard for them to prepare for that, given the circumstances.
But, again, that is what a football club is all about: sticking together, and supporting each other.