Rugby League at its highest level is a male dominated industry.
You only have to go back ten years and anything from female journalists to female board members were just about unheard of!
Thankfully, times are changing, to the point where we have even moved on from the forced, token female presence. Now we are seeing women breaking into Rugby League the way THEY want to, on merit.
Personally I think it is fantastic. We need more women involved in the game at its highest level. Women are so important to the running of junior Rugby League and so to see that carry on through to the NRL is great.
Some of the biggest football tragics I know are women. The thing about women who follow the game is, they are a more all round supporter of the game than you find a bloke will be. They buy the merchandise, they get to games, they drag friends along with them, they want to know more about the club and its player, they embrace ever part of the game they possibly game.
Lets face it guys, most of us are just happy to watch a game, have a few beers and talk about how we could have been great players if not for our knees/complete lack of talent!
Now the game has made a huge effort to get more women involved and its great to see. Still, at some level, an NRL club by its very nature is going to have areas that are dominated by men.
The team itself is the domain of the alpha male. The coach is an obsessive control freak who has an ego so big he actually takes on the job of leading the team. None of that will ever change.
The business side of the clubs are still a male dominated environment. Most clubs don’t have any female board members. It is changing but not fast enough for my liking.
Then we get to the media manager. What is their job at a club?
Basically a media manager is employed by the club to go between the media and the football club itself. They have to almost have a foot in both camps. They need to have a great relationship with the media. They have to be on the media’s side. They should be the type of person that will try and give the media what it wants because lets face it, every time a club is mentioned in the press, its free publicity.
Because of the nature of their job, they have to be the most approachable person at any club. Their agenda needs to be to get the best possible light shone on the club at all times.
When Sky News sports reporter Megan Barnard turned up to try and get a quote from someone at Manly about the mass of judiciary charges the club was facing, she was just there to do her job. This is a job she wouldn’t be doing if she didn’t love sport and want to report on sport.
When Peters was approached, it was pretty clear him and the player he was with were going to make no comment, but as a good journalist Barnard still tried to get something out of them.
When Peter Peters looked at Barnard and said “You’re a good sort”, he was at work. He was saying it to another professional at the peak of her working day doing her job too.
This wasn’t a time for friendly banter, the type of banter that happens in work places across the country every day and put a smile on everyone’s face. This was the wrong place, the wrong time and said to someone Peters might not have ever even met until that moment!
Worst of all, in that setting and the tone he said it in, it was an effort to belittle Barnard.
Peter Peters job as a go between for the media was over right there and then. He needed to be sacked and I applaud the Manly Sea Eagles for realizing they problem they had and fixing it.
Peters has been a great servant to the Manly Sea Eagles for decades. Hopefully he still can have some capacity at the club. As a media manager though, his position was untenable.
Women in the media like Megan Barnard should not have to guess whether they will be belittled by a club official when they approach a club for an “grab”. For the few dinosaurs that said “Its was harmless” there were a thousand women that love our game, who saw what Peters said, who have probably dealt with the same sort of treatment themselves, and thought he was nothing but an arrogant pig.
If we want more women to embrace out game, we need to realize that it is important to make an effort to bring women into the game at every chance we can get. More importantly, we need to go out of our way to allow them to participate in our game in a comfortable, open environment.
Women love Rugby League for what it is, a gladiatorial contest. They love the brutality, they love a good fight, they love the atmosphere of the crowd. To them, this game belongs to them. They love it.
We need to make it easier for women to love our game and be involved in our game.
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
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