If you don’t know whats been happening here is the very quick rundown.
Now for obvious reasons no person or web site can really say too much more on this incident without being sued and going to jail themselves.
Lets be honest here, I’m a good looking bloke, I’d be way to popular in jail.
So I’m not going to talk about this situation in particular but I do have some things I want to talk about in regards to a lot of general incidents that have happened in the game in recent years and how clubs have handled these situations.
I believe that if a club finds itself in a situation where one or more players are involved in a serious police matter, they simply have to stand the player/players down.
There is the line that a player should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, thats fine, but what happens in the situation where a player is found guilty of a crime and a team has allowed that player to represent the club and the sport in general in the mean time?
Having a player at a club with a police matter hanging over their heads has an effect on every level of the game.
First of all, it effects the player themselves and their team mates. It might not be much of an effect depending on the players, but it does have an effect.
It has an effect of the entire fans bases view of the club, whether it be fans of that club in particular, fans of opposition clubs, or general fans of the game.
The matter comes to a head every time the player or club involved is playing a game. This effects support for the game, and leads to sponsors becoming uneasy about having their companies associated with alleged incidents.
We saw recently in an incident involving Danny Wicks with the Newcastle Knights how this all plays out.
The Knights stood down Wicks but the fan base, the media in general and clubs sponsors all lined up ready to see what the Knights stance would be.
Wicks took it upon himself to leave the club voluntarily, and in doing so he took a massive amount of pressure off the club and his team mates.
In a family sport, a sport that is so entwined with its supporter base, a Rugby League club can not simply put its hands in its pockets, shrug its shoulders and say “Eh, we’ll let the cops sort this out. Until then, he plays”.
Fans and sponsors just will not stand for it.
Rugby League clubs for the most part are organizations driven by performance. At the end of the day the old saying is true, it doesn’t matter what type of person you are, just as long as you can play footy, thats all that matters.
This comes across in double standards where by a star player will get chance after chance when they do something stupid. A lower quality player however can find himself cast adrift very quickly for the same incidents.
One player is a problem, when you are having to step down a handful of players from a club, that is a massive blow to ANY teams performance, and with the might dollar ruling over everything, many clubs would say they simply could not afford to make such a drastic move.
It makes you wonder how much money is lost either way.
There is no doubt the game suffers when players involved in certain incidents are allowed to play while their case is being heard. This effects the game across a wide spectrum, one that is very hard to gauge.
Weight that up against what a single club would lose in gate receipts and possibly the following years sponsorship money by fielding a weakened side that doesn’t win as many games as it would have by fielding players involved in alleged illegal activity.
This balance is why governing bodies are so reluctant to step in and make firm decisions on such matters. They have to be seen to not condone what is going on, and therefore sooth the wider supporter base and sponsors, but at the same time they don’t want to force a club to stand down players completely and risk crippling a club financially, a move that would also hurt the competitions bottom dollar in the long term.
If we were all playing this game for nothing however, you can be assured, players in this position would be out the door without any hesitation.
I personally believe that Rugby League should hold itself to a higher standard than other sports in every regard. We talk about it being the Greatest Game Of All, and I think in every instance we should look to prove that fact every time we possibly can.
At the end of the day the people that matter most are the fans, the ones who by the tickets, who buy the merchandise and who ultimately provide generation after generation of players.
Fans are the biggest shareholders in the sport, and fans want these incidents dealt with swiftly.
Innocent until proven guilty, by all means, we all stand by that. However it is in everyone’s best interest if police matters are dealt with away from the spotlight. Allow players to sort out their issues and then come back to the game if they have shown they do not have a case to answer in the court of law.
At the end of the day Rugby League is just a sport. Its a form of entertainment and it provides very well for those that make a living from it.
If all fans ask for is that this sport does not become a holding pen for the justice system, a rehab clinic for people with substance abuse problems or a surrogate parent for people with behavioral problems, is that really such a big ask…just for a sport?
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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