Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

State of Origin

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

If something causes people a problem, what would you do with the something that causes it? Maybe you would not care, which says something pretty sad about yourself. You could ignore the issues because they are not your issues, which tells everyone who is most important in your decision making. You could ignore the problem and hope it goes away which indicates the mind of a fool. You could denigrate the people suffering from the problem which would give us a window into your heartlessness. But then again, maybe you could have a heart, listen, empathise, fix the problem and respond sacrificially in a way that values others.

But this is not easy. It was not easy for Jesus Christ to sacrifice his life for the welfare of all people and in truth the majority don’t even appreciate God’s actions to put things right.

This time of the year is “State of Origin” time. NSW has long had a problem with losing and Queensland have long had a problem with winning. One side of the border begrudges another’s success while the other side gloats. Both winning and losing have their problems.  I can’t see Queensland or NSW losing out of empathy or sacrificing a win to let others enjoy a victory. That would be ridiculous. Some problems just can’t be fixed. However, some problems require action.

Interestingly, there was a time when people had a problem with the “biff” and today the State of Origin brawls are gone. While some in the coliseum of gladiator watchers may yell “Bring back the biff” the NRL has long considered it to be a problem that needed to be stamped out of the game. There was a disturbing trend toward violence at park football as children and youth began to emulate the ugly behaviour of their football stars. Parents began to take their children to other sports and suddenly the “image” of the game became all important. What came first? The children or the image of the game? Was it the kids that mattered or the financial bottom line? Was this good corporate citizenship or just business protection? I will leave you to answer these questions.

What we do know is that having a good role model is a crucial ingredient for a person’s development.

For the NRL there are clearly some things that cause such enormous problems that for them not to care, for them to ignore these problems, it would be a serious failure in their duty of care.

So with that in mind, how about we also consider alcohol and gambling to be such problems. One tires of the rhetoric of the NRL’s “sponsored” moral high ground on players’ drunken behaviour, off field punches, sexual perversions and gambling losses. But come kick off, the Sports Bet odds will be the math’s lessons of tomorrow. Toohey’s and XXXX will litter the cross boarder rivalry. The side of choice might win but like many a failed first grade footballer, the outcome for some will inevitably bring the gambled losses and alcohol fuelled biff back into the home. Irresponsible role modelling for the young observer will have a sad inevitability and lead us to a sadder future.

Personally, I believe the NRL has a responsibility that goes beyond the words, “drink or gamble responsibly.” In my experience the only reason you let a monster play in the yard with your children is that you’re too scared to remove it. It is always difficult to take the stand needed when compromised by those who pay the bills. The relationship of Rugby Australia and Qantas is one such example.

So should you take your children out of the game? Not necessarily! The game is not the problem. The problem is when we allow people to compromise its integrity for financial gain. So do we allow our children to watch the game? Well, I would, but I am a parent/grandparent who takes seriously the supervision of my children/grandchildren and the integrity of the family. Good supervision, good communication and behavioural modelling make a big difference and offer great protections.

In an age of addiction, depression and domestic violence perhaps the game’s administration should take responsibility for the welfare of their spectators.