I love Rugby League because it is an uncompromising collision sport that is difficult to play. It isn’t the sport for everyone. Only a certain type of person wants to play a sport where you receive the ball and have 13 other people looking to drag you to the ground.
When you play a collision sport, you are going to get hurt. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play a collision sport. There are simply no rules and no athletic gear available top stop you from getting hurt while playing a collision sport.
In the modern day rush towards nerfing planet earth and then telling everyone they are a unique and delicate snowflake that can do anything they choose to, sports have gone an extra mile to try and make themselves more desirable to everyone they possibly can. It is not longer enough to appeal to males between the ages of 10 and 80…now sports want to be accepted by men and women of all ages. They want their rules to be acceptable for kids to play from as young as 4, and more than anything they want to appeal to Mums who want their kids to play sport, but who don’t want to see their kids getting hurt.
This pathway, slowly but surly, has lead to Rugby League officials cringing and rushing to apologize to the public any time we see a shoulder charge, we hear a player swearing on an open microphone, or even getting injured in freak accidents.
The modern day cycle of faux outrage on social media soon gets picked up on by mainstream media outlets. All of a sudden we see a brutal, uncompromising sport, that not everyone has the ability to play having to change its rules so that professional athletes of 120 kilograms who throw themselves at each other as fast as they possibly can are safe from being hurt.
It is absolutely ridiculous!
The easiest way to avoid getting hurt during a Rugby League match is to watch it from the grandstand. That is the honest truth about our sport.It is not something you will hear anyone from the NRL say, but it is a reality that players happily accept every single week.
Because Rugby League players are different from most people. They enjoy playing a game that comes with a risk of injury. They look forward to playing a game that leaves you battered and bruised every single week. They are not kids. They are not the normal man on the street. They are Rugby League players, and they love playing Rugby League.
That is why, in the face of public damnation, we have seen so many Rugby League players calling for the return of the shoulder charge. Yes, its dangerous. The players accept that. They accept that the game itself is dangerous. They enjoy the sport in spite of its dangers.
That is why players are disgusted when ever they see a player pretending to be hurt. The fact of the matter is, everyone out there on a Rugby League field is hurting. They all go through collisions that would leave most people sick in bed for a week. When they see one of their own pretending they are hurt from a small bump, they are disgusted because they exist in a world of real pain every single week.
Rugby League is at a real crossroads and it really concerns me. The game I love is brutal and uncompromising. To go out there and play this game means you are made of something special. It isn’t for everyone, but if the powers that be keep trying to make this game one that everyone can play, it will lose what makes it unique to every other sport out there.
I don’t want to watch a glorified game of touch football. I want to see big hits, I want to see a showdown between great athletes, I want to see two teams go to watch and see who breaks first. I want to be able to show non Rugby League fans the sport I love, and know that they have never seen anything like it. I want the people who run the game to be as proud of its brutality and toughness as I am!
Rugby League needs to stop apologizing for the sport it has become. It needs an administration that will stand up in the face of faux outrage and defend the sport at its highest level. Our games administrators need to stop being so quick to apologize for what happens on the field between willing participants to people who will never, ever play the game. Rugby League administrators need to be willing to say to people that complain that “You know what? This game just might not be for you!”.
I want to see Rugby League grow. I want to see it expand into new areas and to allow as many new supporters as possible to witness the sport that I love more than any other.