I’ve always said that alcohol bans at NRL clubs are completely ridiculous. Not because I think players should be able to go out every nights and get hammered, or because they are not enforceable at all, I think they are ridiculous for the simple fact that if my employer said I couldn’t drink at all away from work, I’d just laugh at them!
You can’t expect people to show self control when you completely take away their self control.
It seems the RLPA agrees, as Fairfax Media has reported, the RLPA wants a ban on booze bans.
Now, the thing you have to remember about the RLPA is that they are going to side with the rights of players over the game every single time. That is why they exist.
Current RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast has been more aggressive in that role than his predecessors and that is a good thing for players.
Now, while I agree with Ian Prendergast that booze bans are not what is needed, one thing he did say jumped out at me and concerned me a little.
“Like it or not, drinking is part of the Australian culture, and sport is no exception.” said Prendergast.
The RLPA is there for the players, and while they do want to see the game progress, they don’t really have a obligation to protect the games image.
To say that drinking is part of Australian culture, and sporting culture, exposes something the NRL would love to see change.
I don’t think drinking is any more part of Australian and sporting culture than sports betting is. As much as advertising likes to tell us that everyone love to get hammered and everyone love to bet on sports, the fact is that most people don’t!
When you push the idea that drinking alcohol is part of the inescapable Australian and sporting culture in this country, you immediately put out there a mindset that “everyones doing it!”. Ian Prendergast can say that, because the only real obligation he has is to professional Rugby League players. It is a terrible message however for the game, to accept that sort of mindset.
Here is where it gets weird…
While the NRL would never make comments like this, they accept millions of dollars in sponsorship deals from alcohol and gambling companies every single year. The NRL’s endorsement of alcohol consumption may not be as forthright as Ian Prendergast’s, but it most certainly is there.
Is that part of the reason we keep seeing players get in trouble with alcohol?
I’d suggest the blanket sponsorship of alcohol across the game has more of an impact on players, and the games culture, than any random booze ban ever would.
So Ian Prendergast, and yet his quotes expose a mindset within the game that would suggest that alcohol is an issue that needs to be addressed in some manner.
Rugby League doesn’t need alcohol bans, but it sure could do with less alcohol!