Friday, September 06, 2013

Let Sanity Prevail

Some sports like to market themselves as a contact sport. Not rugby league.

The 13-man code rightly markets itself as a "collision" sport.

Strong, athletic players hurtling into collisions at high speed and in charged atmospheres. Tempers are occasionally going to rise as the intensity and will to win predominant in professional athletes takes hold.

There will be flash points, words will be exchanged and occasionally things will get physical beyond the boundaries of the laws. Fans, for the most part, love it and almost expect it. A good confrontation can lift the volume and passion in a crowd, particularly the next time the players involved come face to face during the game.

So why are the disciplinary bodies in both hemispheres seemingly hell bent on taking it out of the game? Leeds Rhinos player Ryan Bailey recently found himself suspended for having the temerity to throw one back when an opposition player took a swing at him, for example.

Let me clarify, I'm not advocating the cheap shot. The king hit. The sly elbow of Cassidy on Morley, or Boyd on Brohman. I'm talking about two fellas coming face to face and blows being traded before it all gets broken up.

When the sin bin was introduced back in the 1980s, that was one of its main purposes. Send both players off for ten minutes, let them calm down and then get back to the game. Now however it seems that anything that vaguely resembles a bout of fisticuffs is going to lead to you sitting out a game or two on the sidelines.

I get that the sport has a public image it wants to project to broadcasters, sponsors and the parents of potential young players as a safe environment for families to watch and play sport. That makes sense, and like I have said I'm as much in favour of getting rid of thuggery from the game as the next fan.

The occasional punch up though, is and always has been part and parcel of the game. To have players sitting in the stands rather than on the pitch as a result of a bit of handbags is tipping the balance too far, a rush to sanitisation overtaking sanity.

1 comment:

Kylie Hodges said...

I'm not really a league follower, however since moving to the UK its the next best thing to AFL.

I totally agree. League is League. We don't want mindless thuggery and violence but it is a fast paced, contact sport.

I think with Union becoming so popular since your wins over Oz League has tried to compete thus becoming sanitised.

League is League, keep it civil, keep gamesmanship, but allow players the freedom to play.