There is a lot of angst among media types at the moment in regards to the access they get to players and coaches and the quality of answers they get when they are fortunate enough to interview these people.
I can see where they are coming from and to a certain extent, I agree with them.
Sometimes I wonder what coaches are so worried about. Make no mistake, it is coaches that create the atmosphere of fear and suspicion. To a certain extent it plays into the seige mentality every clubs would like to create, but it also means players don’t give much of anything away to the opposition in terms of tactics or even motivation.
In Rugby League we clubs that can pull together and have a single focus. Clubs that can do that are usually very successful. If your defense is terrible thats fine, but you can all pull together and not give those bastard journalists anything…
The thing players need to start to realise is that being able to talk to the media clearly and without fear is in their bests interests. It is like money in the bank. Sponsors are much more likely to back a player that can speak well, that carrys himself with confidence and who can convey the message they want to pass on to the public. These players are also more likely to get work in television or on radio, which raises their profile further and gives them many more post career options.
Players need to start to realise that they are professionals and that their conduct has a direct effect on on their career earnings.
When you look at the performances of Sam Kasiano and Akuila Uate at the Dally M awards, their inability to string together a sentance hurt them and their clubs immensly. Watching Sam Kasiano, I thought “Wow, the Bulldogs will be really dissapointed about that”. Watching Akuila Uate I thought “What the hell are they doing up there in Newcastle that this bloke is carrying on like such a dope at a big media event”.
Even when you look back to Darius Boyd’s performance in front of the media a few years ago, the biggest person that ended up hurting was Boyd himself. Before that I considered Boyd to be a very good player but didn’t know much else about him. After seeing the arrogant, dismissive way to confronted the media, he came off as a complete and utter arsehole….and that I’m sure is how a lot of Rugby League fans would still describe him.
Clubs have a responcibility to train players on how to be comfortable in front of the media and explain to them what they can and can not say. At the end of the day, its just football. It isn’t like these guys are going to give away state secrets or outline the gameplan the team has been working on all week heading into a big finals game.
It isn’t even as though clubs have to make every player available. Some players are probably best kept away from the media, either because they convey a terrible image like Kasiano and Uate did, or because they will drag up something ridiculous like Anthony Watmough blaming 2 Stilnox tables for missing the New South Wales team for a number of years.
Clubs should look at the media as free advertising. If you have only 15 players in your first grade side that are really good with the media, that is all you need. Sure the media will always want to hear from star players, but at the same time star players should want to get out there in the media as well as when it comes down to it, they are the ones that can demand personal sponsorships and make the most of that air time.
I’m the first to say that sometimes, the media demand too much. They feel a sense of entitlement. Sometimes you can see where journalists are simply frustrated because they have not been able to gather the content they needed for their employer and they go and blame the clubs for that. With some of the articles some of them write, some of the absolute crap, I can understand why some players are weary of journo’s. However, the positives far out weight the negatives and that needs to be a message that gets out to clubs and filters down from the administration to the playing group.
One thing I would like to see is the NRL rewarding clubs that are more open to the media. That might come in the way of more air time during promotions or even somehow been linked into the grant clubs recieve every year from the NRL. If a club is going out of its way to be open to the media, why shouldn’t they get more money for that time and effort? I can think of a few clubs who would change their ways tomorrow if it meant they got an extra few hundred thousand dollars every year as a result.
You’ll never changes coaches. They are a certain personality type that are completely paranoid and want to control everything so much that you will never get a straight answer from them. However, there are things you can do to make sure that type of culture of silence does not filter through to the rest of the game.
At the end of the day, Rugby League is trying to sell a product and the best salemen are the players themselves. Sure, they got their billion dollar broadcasting deal, but from this point on any increases are only going to come if the game starts to play ball with their paymasters. That would be the media who just want a few decent sounbites to use.
Is it really that hard?
The NRL has been running a social media campaign during the finals called “Bring The Noise”. Maybe it is time the NRL started to bring their own noise…
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com