We spend our time watching brilliant players. We marvel in awe of their skill on the paddock. We want to hope the skill they have as a player transcends to normal life.
But then we wake up to the next headline by the sports journalists who built them up, take them down when they transgress the normal idiom.
It’s a tough world for a player, they have a skill which we pay them handsomely for and mark them accordingly.
But are we harsh? The unions and clubs spend time to develop them as players, superstars and dare I say it ‘brands’. The only catch is they are basically just good footballers.
Some players are amazing individuals on and off the field. The passion they have on the field to be a superstar that exceeds the normal player is the same passion used off the field.
Players who are mavericks on the field tend to be mavericks off the field. Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor and Quade Cooper are notable in this respect. They all found themselves in hot water from time to time for their maverick actions off the field. But somehow, we managed through with minimal scuffle in hindsight.
Others Like David Pocock and Israel Falaou are the inspirational types who are driven by a higher purpose.
They use their sense of honour on the field as their driving force and its runs true off the field as well.
These players tend to create issues that are not cases of immaturity and stupidity but ones of idealism. They run aground when they take a position which is not consistent with the union or club.
The issue today is that professional sport is different to normal careers. You are different, you are a freak at the game of rugby, and you must be a role model in life for the unions and clubs they play for.
Plus, you must be compliant with the commercial decisions that your employer makes and their ethics and ethos of those deals.
This is considerably easier for the naughty crowd, but for the idealists it can be very difficult. Assurances and guarantees made at contract signing tend to be pushed to one side as they champion the ideal for the greater good.
Here lies the issue, can they be melded together? No, I don’t believe they can. This problem will never go away.
The idealists want to affect change and organisation wants to pay bills, make money. The challenge is, are we paying the idealist to curb their ideals and their inner fire that makes them the players they are?
I think so.
So how does a Raelene Castle manage this issue? She cannot win.
The different factions want the ideal. Others want a more pragmatic approach and other just want the sponsors to pay more and some just want a W on game day. Today, my heart goes out RC (possibly for the first time).
Rugby is the key here. We all live for the game in part. We all come from very diversified backgrounds, we all have different expectations on players. The money that goes around is the accelerant to the blow ups.
Raelene has the tough job of keeping the family together. This week is a tough one for her.
The judgement on discipline, not only for Folau, but a consistent balance of power across the whole player roster needs to demonstrated.
The warmth and caring of a mother to keep and forgive all her wayward players while keeping the public and sponsors happy.
I suspect a smack is in order for Folau, or more correctly a belting. But you do want to keep him as a family member. Izzy wants to keep his idealism, the fans want it too. That’s what’s makes him the player he is. Kill that and kill him.
The sponsors deals need to be maintained. They want to enhance their image by associating with rugby not pay money to denigrate their image. But they also need to understand that this is a dynamic space which needs to be managed.
For Israel, you’re an idealist. Be proud of that, it’s who you are. But the contracts you get involved with are hard and tough and often inflexible. You must respect that and find a way to come to terms with it.
There was a good reason why monks are often sworn to poverty so to allow them the idealistic life and to act as there will dictates.
I look forward to Raelene doing some masterful work, Izzy playing at the Rugby World Cup and Ol’ Bill in a glass cabinet in Paddington!