Snort that stuff after you retire. Right now, you work for me

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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116 Have your say

    There’s a story I tell my kids before they go on school camp. A large herd of wildebeest are running from a pride of lions.

    One wildebeest says to another, “I hope we can outrun those lions!” To which the other says, “I just hope I can outrun you.”

    The lesson is: have fun but don’t be the one that carries it on too far and gets caught. Don’t be the slowest wildebeest…

    I reckon that there are a lot of slow wildebeest in the NRL ranks right now.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that cocaine use is rife among the players in the NRL, such has been number getting in hot water in relation to the use or possession of Colombian marching powder.

    There are so many it is hard not to think that they aren’t just the tip of the iceberg.

    Greg Prichard thinks the players are only human. Mary K thinks the whole of society has a drug problem, not just the NRL.

    Dane Eldridge thinks that it is all the NRL’s fault anyway.

    With all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, they are totally missing the point.

    This isn’t a matter of morality, role modelling or legality. It’s a matter of performance.

    Cocaine is unequivocally a performance-wrecking drug. These party boys are letting their fans down because taking cocaine is without question very bad for your body, your brain and – as a result – for your performance.

    As a devoted supporter of my club I expect that anyone that plays for my team is doing everything they can to be in the best possible physical and mental state each and every match day. They each get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, so that isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    I expect them to be dedicated trainers, deeply committed to bonding with and supporting their teammates, as well as being really sensible in their lifestyle choices.

    For a rugby league player to be performing at their best they sure as hell can’t be using cocaine.

    While cocaine is definitively an illegal substance, its level of use and acceptance within our society – especially among the moneyed classes – is high. Often intelligent and useful people consider its prohibition an annoying technicality.

    I’m sure lots of users among the NRL ranks don’t really think they are doing anything that bad when they are snorting lines off a bloke’s phone in an alleyway, or off a toilet cistern in a harbour-side pub. So they get slack. They become slow wildebeest. They get busted.

    The cold hard facts are that only one player in 20 has a first grade career that lasts over ten seasons.

    Conversely a supporter is for life. They are there when the player arrives and they’ll be there when the player leaves. They effectively own the club and the players are just temporary custodians of the jerseys.

    North Queensland Cowboys fans NRL 2016

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    For me it is very simple. After years of my Raiders putting up with poor behaviour from star players only to have it repeated again and again, a line in the sand was drawn. Now if you’re part of the Green Machine you’d better tow the line.

    While Josh Papalii’s drunk driving episode shows that the club is still not perfect, it has improved out of sight since the departure of Todd Carney, Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan. Many of the supporters, including myself, continually made excuses for these players in the hope that they could keep playing for us regardless of their poor behaviour.

    We now realise a zero dickhead policy is actually far better in the long term.

    The players should know that no matter how good the sycophants they’ve surrounded themselves with say they are, they are just another player. They are not essential. They can – and they will – be replaced, especially if they snort coke.

    You wouldn’t hire a heavy drinker for a job that involved being bright and fresh in the mornings. You wouldn’t hire a bloke who ate Maccas four times a day to work in a health food store. You wouldn’t hire a smoker as your personal trainer.

    So why do people think it is OK to do cocaine if they play professional sport when it is proven to effect the body and mind quite detrimentally?

    In regards to physical performance cocaine has the following effects.

    It affects the nasal passage in ways that can make it difficult to breath easily, something an elite sportsperson needs to do.

    It causes liver damage. Your liver cleanses your blood. An elite sportsperson needs good blood.

    It severely messes with your circulatory system. Cocaine use tightens blood vessels. This deprives the heart of its normal blood supply. The user is then at risk of a heart attack or arrhythmia. It also leads to a major boost in blood pressure. An elite sportsperson needs excellent aerobic capacity and cocaine clearly damages it.

    It overloads your brain. Regular use can lead to weakness in the arteries in the brain. This can result in aneurysms and haemorrhages. Even the dopiest footballer needs their brain.

    It damages your heart. A build-up of cholesterol in the walls of arteries is a common side effect. This can result in sudden heart attack. It does happen to people in their 20s too.

    However, as bad as all these are, the most common side effect is the worst: mental illness.

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Any drug that causes feelings of euphoria consequently dumps the user in the depths.

    Feelings of elation on Saturday night are suddenly feelings of desolation, isolation, and self-loathing a few days later.

    A few years ago I rejected the offer of hard drugs from an acquaintance on the basis of needing to look after my mental state, that I wasn’t prepared to risk my psychological well being with the inevitable come down.

    Paul Gallen and Greg Bird

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    “You mean suicide Tuesday?” She replied matter of factly…

    I couldn’t believe they had a name for it.

    Yet they still wanted the high badly enough to endure it.

    Suicide is no laughing matter. Recently we’ve had a number of sportsmen tragically take their own lives. I should stress that there has been no link to drugs that I know of – but I still wonder whether it was a contributor.

    Cocaine use can easily destroy a rugby league player’s morale, mental resilience and focus. These are essential elements for success.

    A player who is bottoming out after cocaine use can be highly irritable and unbalanced. Twice in my working life I’ve been subjected to the revolting behaviour of superiors at work whose predilection for cocaine use meant that they could be downright unreasonable, nasty and horrible to work with. It made coming to work miserable.

    Football players who use are more than capable of doing the same thing at their club, and when they do their behaviour will eat at the essential morale and cohesion of the side.

    Professional sports people using cocaine is akin to running a Maserati on E10 petrol after hitting the on board computer a few times with a hammer.

    It is just stupid.

    I love footy and I’m desperately looking forward to this weekend’s games. There are some cracking match ups on offer.

    But every time I notice a player putting in a sub-par performance I’ll be wondering whether it’s because they’ve been using.

    So take note all you NRL players: you can do as much coke as you want when you retire, but right now you work for us – the fans – and if we find out that you are snorting away our chances there will be hell to pay.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

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    The Crowd Says (116)

    • Roar Guru

      May 11th 2017 @ 5:58am
      The Barry said | May 11th 2017 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      Hi Tim

      I wasn’t going to comment on this issue any more as I felt that it had been done to death. But in all the hundreds and thousands of words written about this over the past week your story is the best I’ve read.

      I fully agree that this is first and foremost a health issue and should be treated as such. I don’t think just going wallop and handing out massive bans (including life bans as many have suggested) help the players, the fgame or the fans. There are ways to treat the issue seriously that don’t involve banning players for extended periods.

      Papalii got a couple of weeks for getting behind the wheel of a car sloshed (not his first traffic offence either). I didn’t read much outrage about that. But someone messes with the devils dandruff, quite literally hurting no one but themselves and the life ban brigade comes out in force. Papalii didn’t injure anyone either but his actions carried a far greater and immediate risk to him and others than anything SKD, JBrom, Proctor or Keogh did.

      It says to me that there’s something wrong with the way these two things have been messaged to society in general that we think one is far worse than the other.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 11th 2017 @ 7:14am
        DogsOfWar said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report

        Peter Fitzsimmons wrote something similar in regards to drinking. Its hard cause the guys are young and want to enjoy life like mates who don’t play NRL. But with limited opportunities and no lack of people willing to enjoy there company when on the drink and the cocoon a lot of players can live in especially if they are a star player throughout there journey to becoming a NRL player, it can be a quick trip from a social drink to a lot of trouble.

        There is no answer other than more education, and lots of resources and support systems to give players options. Like the NFL who has these problems on a weekly basis, some players will just continue to do whatever they feel. And given the backgrounds of a lot of these players there may be more to what is happening than just bad decision making which the outsider sees at face value.

        • May 11th 2017 @ 9:23am
          spruce moose said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          Yes, but Fitzy only writes it because he’s now given up alcohol.

          5 years ago he would have said nothing. But once he’s on a bandwagon…

      • May 11th 2017 @ 7:38am
        Oingo Boingo said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        Perhaps it’s more a personal perception or belief system.
        The majority of people would have had a few and driven home safely ( or had friends that do it ) ,and perhaps thought afterwards ” I can’t see what all the fuss is about” . But I think I’d be on the money , that far less people have shovelled snow or know someone that openly admits to doing it.

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2017 @ 7:46am
        M.O.C. said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        I think in saying that taking coke is hurting “no one but themselves” is obviously not true – it hurts the NRL, the team from which the players are suspended, the club, the employers “brand” and their ability to attract sponsors, fans, parents and kids participation in the sport. Infinity have dropped a 1 million $ sponsorship from Cronulla and Easts as a result and the media have torn the NRL a new one. This is far from only hurting themselves.

        • May 11th 2017 @ 11:15am
          Jacko said | May 11th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

          MOC its not the Cocaine doing that tho is it. As he said, Cocaine hurts no one but themselves. Getting caught is what is doing all the other damage you are saying. If they dont get caught, or it wasnt anything to do with the clubs then Coke is only hurting the user

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 7:48am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

        Thanks Baz. I’m looking forward to the footy this weekend.
        DUI is certainly a very serious offence and seems to get the misdemeanor treatment.

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2017 @ 8:07am
          The Barry said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          Yeah can’t wait to see some club footy and put this behind us.

          I was no fan of John Howard but he was a master when any controversy came up. He’d make one comment and then bunker down and ride it out knowing the next headline was just around the corner and the current story would blow over.

          Sometimes I think the NRL should be more like that.

          • Columnist

            May 11th 2017 @ 10:04am
            Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            totally agree Baz.

          • May 11th 2017 @ 10:58am
            andrew said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            “Blow over”… I think that has already happened hasn’t it? 🙂

        • May 11th 2017 @ 2:23pm
          fix the scrums said | May 11th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          Good article Tim.

          • Columnist

            May 11th 2017 @ 7:16pm
            Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

            Thanks fts

            • Roar Guru

              May 11th 2017 @ 11:15pm
              BigJ said | May 11th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

              Great article mate, fantastic read. I think you hit the nail right on the head, I can’t understand why these players want to shove this Crap up thier noses when there is no benefit to it and it just leaves you with health problems and a lighter wallet. But a hard stance needs to be taken. A zero tolerance policy like the military, do drugs and you career is done no second chances. Obviously the drug problem will
              Never go away but maybe if a few heads roll the message might get through

              • May 12th 2017 @ 7:34am
                Jeff Dustby said | May 12th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

                They probably enjoy it like most others that partake

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2017 @ 8:08am
                The Barry said | May 12th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

                There is a ‘benefit’ though J, even if it is superficial and extremely short term, otherwise no one would ever do drugs.

                Punitive measures like a ‘zero tolerance / no strikes’policy doesn’t really help the game.

                Not only is there SKD, JBrom and Proctor to consider but all the players (who knows how many) that have received an anonymous first strike under the current policy.

                Maybe the strike policy is working?

                For all the panic about a drug culture there have been very few players who have been caught on a second strike (Barba, anyone else?).

      • May 11th 2017 @ 1:57pm
        Elliott Wrigglesworth-Smith said | May 11th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

        Cancer, cholesterol, heart disease, a broken leg — are all health issues.

        Addiction is not a disease or health issue (apart from the side-effects caused by the drug abuse itself). It’s simply weakness.

        For something to be a disease a pathology needs exist and be identified.

        A cancer patient — you leave the tumour inside the person, the tumour grows and the person dies.

        With a drug addict the “cancer” or the disease is the drug. If you don’t put the drug up your nose you are magically “cured” of this “disease”.

        Some disease right….

        Don’t go through the deliberate steps of contacting your dealer, collecting the drugs, handing over money, preparing the drug, putting it up your nose, and your magically cured of this “disease” forever…

        It’s debatable whether any of them are “addicted”.

        They are simply weak and made reckless decisions.

        • May 11th 2017 @ 3:53pm
          TJB said | May 11th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          And depressed people should just smile more and get over it too should they? Addiction is a significant mental health issue and its constant trivialisation by people who clearly have no idea because it hasn’t affected them are not doing anything to help the cause

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm
          The Barry said | May 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best to keep quiet.

          Your post was completely and utterly factually, medically and scientifically wrong.

          Well done. You’ve taken ignorance to a new level.

          • Roar Guru

            May 11th 2017 @ 4:29pm
            Rellum said | May 11th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

            I just hope no one in his/her family suffers with an attitude like that.

            • Columnist

              May 11th 2017 @ 7:17pm
              Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

              I suggest we might be being trolled lads…

    • May 11th 2017 @ 7:27am
      Rugbyfan101 said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      You very clearly don’t understand the pharmacodynamics of cocaine or basic physiology. I would suggest you refrain from commenting on it as your point is otherwise good.

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        I don’t even understand the word “pharmacodynamics”!
        I call fake word on you.
        Rugbyfan101 is fake words. He doesn’t use real words.

        Just as an aside Rugbyfan”fake words”101, Are you suggesting that Cocaine doesn’t harm performance or that it harms performance but not in the way my research suggested?
        If it is the latter, please give us your précis of how it actually harms performance.

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2017 @ 11:20am
          Nathan Absalom said | May 11th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Pharmacodynamics is a broad term that applies to the study of how drugs affect the physiology of an organism. Things like drug/receptor binding interactions (my field), signal transduction pathways and whole-organism effects. Most people that study pharmacodynamics would probably use a more specific term for their field of expertise though (neuroscientist, exercise physiologist etc), but it’s not a “fake” term and Rugbyfan101 has used it in the correct context, whether you agree with his underlying premise or not.

          • Columnist

            May 11th 2017 @ 1:29pm
            Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            Thanks for your clarification JA.
            However, I was being facetious. Obviously I did a poor job of it. I’ll try harder.

            • Roar Guru

              May 11th 2017 @ 1:37pm
              Nathan Absalom said | May 11th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Sorry, I see that now!

              • Columnist

                May 11th 2017 @ 4:29pm
                Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

                All good! I will try harder in future.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 11th 2017 @ 7:54am
      Squidward said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      In fairness, it probably no fun after you retire. You’re not young, you’re not really chasing the girls in the nightclubs and prob not even chasing them due to the minor celebrity you still have, rather than when retired and with kids.
      So being sportsmen they’re prob better off not at all ever then

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Agreed squid. But I’m not paying them to perform for me then and, while I’d prefer them not to be morons, at that point it is less of an issue for me.

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 8:11am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        And secondarily, if their priority is fun they can join us in the stands, with our pay packets and lifestyles.

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2017 @ 9:06am
          Scott Pryde said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Couldn’t agree more with that second comment Tim – join us in the stands – absolutely.

      • May 11th 2017 @ 9:52am
        Norad said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Three of the four are Victorians. Why is NRL blamed and not Victoria?

        • Columnist

          May 11th 2017 @ 10:05am
          Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          read Dane Eldridge’s piece. it explains everything.

    • May 11th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Josh said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      While i agree with your general point i ask 2 questions.
      1. Kevin procter was out drinking to the point of not remebering at 5am – If he doesent take the coacain is he not still treating the fan and his responsbilities just as badly from a performance point of view

      2. How can anyone say that what Josh Papali did isnt worse the players who took coke. The coke players risked hurting themselves while Papali risked the lives of humdreds of others if the nrl were genuine then if the coke players get 4 weeks then Papali deserves 10

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 10:08am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        1. yes. I totally agree.
        2. yes I totally agree. I said as much about James Tamou’s 2nd dui. however, Josh plays for my side so I of course know that he’s a really good bloke, a family man and this should be seen as just a blip rather than standard behaviour. or maybe i’m biased?

    • Columnist

      May 11th 2017 @ 8:29am
      Mary Konstantopoulos said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Hi Tim

      Great article!

      This is the part of the puzzle that I don’t understand. You are absolutely right in that players should be at their physical best. I don’t expect my team to win every week – but I expect them to get the basics right and be in peak physical condition.

      But what about booze? I think exactly the same of a player that goes and gets mortal on the weekend or after a game – surely drinking that much isn’t good for your physical condition either?

      MK

      • May 11th 2017 @ 9:26am
        spruce moose said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Alcohol is the accepted – legal – evil.

        Could you honestly imagine the existence of professional sport, particularly the NRL, if they were told they had to give up the booze to play?

        But your point is valid nonetheless.

        • Columnist

          May 11th 2017 @ 9:32am
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Hey spruce – completely agree with you!

          And I’m certainly not calling for prohibition – players have the right to choose what they do in their spare time (of course, to an extent).

          I’m a person that rarely has a drink – rarely. I don’t like what it does to my body, I think it’s a waste of money and I just don’t need it.

          If I was an athlete and my body was as important to my job as it is for professional athletes, then alcohol is not something I would be going anywhere near. What’s the point?

          • Columnist

            May 11th 2017 @ 10:09am
            Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

            if someone tried to take my coffee away I’d be on the barricades. I’m not addicted to caffeine. I can give it up anytime. I just don’t want to.

            • May 11th 2017 @ 11:31am
              Jacko said | May 11th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

              Thats it tho isnt it. What should we fairly expect from our stars? If coke affects performance ( which I doubt ) then what about Alcohol, Prescription drugs, Diet, training attitude, etc. Should we be given info as to when a player has a pie for lunch instead of something healthy? I dont see it as our problem or right to know any of this as if the player is not performing they will be dropped and eventually not signed. Why is what a player puts in their body our business unless it enhanses performance? Ie Cheating…what about a player having a new born in the house? That would affect sleep and theirfore performance. I know thats silly but the point is , at what point do we stop?

              • May 11th 2017 @ 12:21pm
                spruce moose said | May 11th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                Yep, but they broke the law Jacko.

    • May 11th 2017 @ 8:37am
      Buddy said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      There is a bit of the “hard to put an old head on young shoulders” in many areas of sport as in society in general. When a person reches the heights of their profession – in this case sport, often at a very young age, they often lack maturity and an understanding of responsibilities, the fact they are a role model and most importantly, they often do not understand how fortunate they are – purely in the sense of how many millions of children around the globe grow up dreaming of playing professional sport and making a living out of it. Assuming that no professional athlete just “falls into it” and that they put in years of hard work and knuckled down to relentless training regimes, often at times when many of their friends and colleagues were out partying, once an athlete has reached “the big time” it must be difficult to remain focussed and professional at all times when there are so many distractions all around. That is where mentoring and spiritual/moral guidance should play a much larger part in sport than it appears to do so. Yes there are education programs etc but there is also a great deal of free time, often when everyone doing “normal jobs” is busy working and that appears to loom as a big danger. Although 18 is the key age for adulthood, who would seriously argue that a male of that age – in fact I’d argue in many cases even 25 males are not really mature in their outlook and thought processes and that is the area that requires the pastoral care. I am not talking religion either, just that sporting organisations could do a lot worse than pay a lot more attention to this area and help to keep young players on the “straight and narrow” by using their time more profitably, being involved in the community with voluntary work etc. I realise that there are many cases of older and supposedly more mature players being involved with illicit substances. However, if the education, training and constant mentoring starts at a young age and continues to be reinforced I would like to think that players will act accordingly as they do really mature and become the seniors and leadership groups within the club.

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2017 @ 10:10am
        Tim Gore said | May 11th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        one of the problems is that the people running the clubs see nothing wrong with the behaviour as lots of them are – or were – part of the same cohort.

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