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Why I've fallen out of love with rugby league

Ben Barba faces his old team as a Shark. Who are you tipping to win? (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)
Roar Guru
3rd August, 2014
205
5825 Reads

I’ve fallen out of love with rugby league. Now I know this may not be the case for everyone, but it is for me.

This is a sport that once had me captivated so much that I would daydream regularly about playing alongside Darren Lockyer. At any mention of the Broncos or league for that matter, I would have the tongue flapping like a dog with its head out the window.

This is a sport I would watch every Friday and Sunday as though it were my religion. Rugby league was a sport that I loved for a very long time, but not any more.

I could sit here and write about how the game of rugby league is dying but I know the type of response I’d receive, and that’s not the angle I’m going for.

Instead, what I’m going for is a way to gauge how rugby league fans honestly feel about the game. Have your experiences been dampened or lifted, and how?

For me, I have numerous issues I’d like to address, none of which I believe will ever change back or even be cared about again. So let’s get this started.

1. Channel Nine commentary
Who hasn’t complained about this? I think I’m just joining a long growing list of fans who have been turned off the mundane, idiotic and pathetic commentary afforded by the likes of Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould or now that even more useless and annoying Ray Hadley.

They have become so out of touch with the modern game that they can’t seem to hold a play-by-play commentary for a single set without going off on a tangent completely unrelated to football.

2. Channel Nine itself
We live in the 21st century and Channel Nine cannot even seem to put HD together. I currently utilise my 55-inch LED LCD Smart 3D TV on Friday nights playing video games with a bunch of mates who also used to follow the sport as passionately as myself.

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I tell you what, at least my TV is being put to good use. The graphics on today’s modern televisions are phenomenal.

3. The play the ball
Since when does the play the ball constitute fumbling or walking an extra two or three metres every time? Since when did the rule book change to say the play the ball no longer requires the foot to roll it to dummy half?

4. The scrum
Now I am not old enough to appreciate the old days of the scrum, but I am old enough to appreciate the contest of a forward pack. When can the little man get his time to shine when the middle of the ruck is heavily congested with tight shirt wearing Sonny Bill Williams look-a-likes? Contest the thing and let’s allow a genuine and tactical contest to re-emerge.

5. The people’s game: Part One
My late grandfather spoke ever so passionately about the times he would pack up the car, put the family in the back and drive to Brookvale. He would always talk about getting there early to get a good seat while enjoying the day’s action of reserve grade and main matches kicking off on time.

I was actually going to attend the Broncos versus Storm game the other night. I was on night work,  was going to start at 11pm and for the first time in a while, I was going to attend the football with my father, whom I know loves spending the time watching footy with me. Him and my grandfathers are the reason why I loved the sport so much. But no, I didn’t attend and it came down to one thing – time.

The match program used to read 7:30pm kick-off. With time it became 7:45pm. Now, it’s a joke. Football doesn’t kick-off until 8pm, sometimes even 8:10pm. It never finishes on time either. It’s as though more air time is afforded at halftime.

Earlier in the year I timed how long the halftime break was. For what is supposed to be 10 minutes, it turned out to be 18 minutes.  What in the world does a football player need 18 minutes for, let alone Channel Nine? I was going to turn up late to work that night so I didn’t go.

6. The people’s game: Part Two
The merchandise, match day costs for food and beverages, transport and Ticketek fees – they all add up. When I was 18 years old, I was a season member of the Brisbane Broncos. My ticket that season cost me $180 concession. Not bad actually. I was young, still in love with the game and did what all 18-year-old football fans do – spend money!

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So with $180 already spent I needed a jersey. Ca-ching, $160 later. Before my first match I’d already spent $340.

I wasn’t as intelligent as my other family members and I never packed food. For 15 matches I spent roughly $12.50 per match on chips, chicken and a small coke. Work that out! $187.50. For a season membership, jersey and food I was looking at more than $520 for a season. You’ve got to be joking. I guess that’s the joy of supporting the Broncos. How is any family meant to afford those sorts of costs in today’s modern economical climate?

They’re as intelligent as they are dumb.  Increase match day costs via the use of pyro/fireworks, add in boring entertainment and poor music and what you’ve got is an increase on products. No offence but the atmosphere generated is poor and the typical Brisbane *clap clap clap* has become so out dated.

Fans want to see entertaining football, passion in the jersey, atmosphere and affordable match day costs.

Some may disagree with me and that’s fine. Rugby League Week just revealed the Broncos sit fourth on highest selling jerseys. Well, this says one of two things. Perhaps I’m wrong or basically you should be higher given you hold all of Brisbane to yourself.

Merchandise sales should be high given this point, regardless of costs for I’m sure there are plenty of other 18 year olds who are now in the shoes I once was. There is a reason marketers market the way they do.

7. Suburban grounds or not?
I won’t go to much into this for this topic has been beaten to death, resuscitated, beaten to death again and resuscitated so many times. The fact is I’ve never attended any stadium other than Suncorp for a professional rugby league match, so I can’t comment on the positives or negatives.

What I can comment on though is the fact that it continues to remain a very hot topic that affects the Sydney teams more so. Why, after so many years, is this still an issue? Due to new laws on pokies? Clubs cannot financially cope?

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8. What round do we want to call it now?
I’m not joking. Seriously, how pathetic. Now before I have one of you jump down my throat, the Rise for Alex round was nice, as is the Women in League round, but everything else can go to buggery. This rivalry round is utter nonsense. What the NRL considers to be today’s modern day rivalries is nonsense.

9. The unfair fixturing
I am a Broncos fan and I hate them playing consistently on Friday nights. I would actually like to attend a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon match at least more than once a year.

Channel Nine, there is a reoccurring theme here. Although they are the big bucks payers, they don’t give a care in the world about teams like the Raiders, Storm or Sharks. The strong get stronger and the weaker just get weaker.

This all goes without mentioning how unfair the amount of times sides face one another. Broncos versus Cowboys twice a season guarantee, Eels versus Dogs, Tigers versus Dragons etc.  Where is the fairness in this? I would love to be the teams who face the Raiders and Sharks twice a year. They’re a joke. 

10. Yearly rule changes
I’ll sum this up quickly, I’m sure you get the point. Wait, no I’ll keep going. Actually let me change my mind in eight weeks. Hold up. The rules have been changed so much in the past 20 years I can’t keep up.

12. The referees and video referees
They don’t deserve a mention, but funnily enough I find myself yelling at them more than anything when at a game. I just love KFC. So much.

13. Player behaviour
Gone are the idols I once looked up to. A child’s view may be tainted still or unaware of his or her surroundings, but the parent watching knows all too well they’ll be hearing about a bloke pissing in his mouth again.

Then little Jimmy will ask mummy and daddy, ‘Where’s Todd Carney?’ The list of players who can’t maintain maturity is endless. Ah, but should we expect them too. I hear some of you saying but you were once 22. Yeah, I didn’t do idiotic things like what these people do.

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So that’s me done. I have no more love for the game of rugby league. You may ask why I spent my precious time writing this. Well, I guess there remains a glimmer of hope. Ultimately I have set out to gauge the opinion of those who still either love the game and those who are also fed up. Tell me why?